Negative Stereotyping of Obesity in Children: The Role of Controllability Beliefs


1 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marika Tiggemann, School of Psychology, Flinders University of South Australia, G. P. O. Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, Australia. e-mail:


This study investigated the extent of negative stereotyping of obesity (compared to negative stereotyping of height) in children and its relationship with the perception of obesity as controllable. Questionnaires measuring negative stereotyping and controllability beliefs about weight (and height) were completed by 96 children from Grades 4 to 6. Consistent negative stereotyping of obesity was found for both child and adult targets, regardless of the child's own gender, age, or weight, Likewise, children uniformly believed obesity to be largely under volitional control. The degree of controllability assigned to obesity was positively correlated with the extent of negative stereotyping. It was concluded that control beliefs may provide a vehicle for changing the strong negative attitudes displayed toward fat people.