Is obesity stigma based on perceptions of appearance or character? Theory, evidence, and directions for further study

Florian Van Leeuwen, David F Hunt, Justin H Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
599 Downloads (Pure)


Theoretical approaches to stigmatization have highlighted distinct psychological mechanisms underlying distinct instances of stigmatization. Some stigmas are based on inferences of substandard psychological character (e.g., individuals deemed untrustworthy), whereas others are based on perceptions of substandard physical appearance (e.g., individuals with physical deformities). These inferences and perceptions are associated with specific cognitive and motivational processes, which have implications for understanding specific instances of stigmatization. Recent theoretical approaches and empirical findings suggest that obesity stigma involves both inferences of substandard psychological character and perceptions of substandard physical appearance. We provide a review of the relevant evidence and discuss directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1474704915600565
Number of pages8
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 22/07/2015


  • obesity stigma
  • pathogen avoidance
  • prejudice
  • stigmatization
  • attribution

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