Is Love Seen as Different for the Obese?1

Authors

  • Mary B. Harris

    Corresponding author
    1. University of New Mexico
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Mary B. Harris, Department of Educational Foundations, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.
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  • 1

    This research was completed while the author was a visiting professor in the psychology department at the University of Georgia. Thanks are due to Laurie Walters, Stefanie Waschull, Angie Forcey, Margo Holder, Pam Wilson and Chin-Chi Lu for their assistance with the project.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Mary B. Harris, Department of Educational Foundations, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.

Abstract

In order to assess how actual obesity and stereotypes of obesity affect perceptions of love, 222 college students completed an anonymous questionnaire concerning their experiences with love, including the Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) of Hendrick and Hendrick (1986). They then saw a photograph of a male or female who appeared fat or normal weight and responded to an identical questionnaire as they thought the pictured person would. Subjects' obesity was unrelated to dating or marital experience, self-esteem, or LAS subscales. However, fatter stimulus persons were judged to be less attractive, lower in self-esteem, less likely to be dating, less Erotic, less Ludic, and more Manic on the LAS, and to deserve a fatter, uglier love partner. Gender differences were similar to those found in previous studies, with gender stereotypes generally reflecting an exaggeration of actual sex differences. These findings were consistent with the theory that obese people are stereotyped as having fewer resources to contribute to a relationship.

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