Investigating the Explicit and Implicit Attitude towards Obese People among Students of Helping-Professions

Iva Kuculo, Etelka Kožar, Ajana Löw


The aim of this study was to examine the explicit and implicit attitude towards obese people among students of two helping professions in Croatia. The study included 429 participants –students of psychology and social work at the University of Zagreb. The attitude was assessed using an experimental manipulation which consisted of a modified photograph (implicit measure), as well as the attitudes towards obese people scale (explicit measure). Negative attitude was found on both of the measures. There was a significant difference in the estimates of work performance and estimates of the three dimensions of personality depending on the body weight in the photograph. In comparison with the person of average weight, the obese person was estimated as less effective at work, more emotionally unstable, less extraverted and less open to experience. Psychology students were more stringent in assessing both the overweight and the average weight person. There was no significant interaction between body weight in the photograph and the study field of participants. On average, participants had a moderate level of explicit negative attitude against obese people. Also, results show a positive correlation between negative attitude and right-wing authoritarianism. There were significant, but low associations between implicit and explicit attitude measures, suggesting that there is a "hidden" aspect of the attitude that can be measured only implicitly. The results provide an insight into the under-researched understanding of attitude against obese among helping professions in Croatia and may provide useful guidelines for reducing negative attitude.


attitude towards obese people; implicit measure of attitude; explicit measure of attitude; helping professions


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