Group Identification and Permeation in Weight Stigma and Prejudice

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Social




Overweight people are faced with extreme prejudice and discrimination across multiple domains. Overweight people face prejudice largely because one's weight is perceived to be personally controllable. Therefore, overweight people may be seen as a permeable group, which can diminish perceived entitativity (i.e., groupness) of the group. The group also lacks a positive social identity. Consequently, overweight people may be unlikely to strongly identify with their group because of low entitativity and negative social identity. This may be especially true when members want to leave their group through dieting and weight loss. Given that group identification has been shown to be associated with positive outcomes among other stigmatized groups, it is important to examine whether this holds for overweight people, or these potential boundary conditions among the overweight. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how identification with the overweight and permeation (attempting to exit the overweight group) affect both likelihood of prejudice from the non-overweight (Study 1) and the experience of prejudice among the overweight (Study 2). Results point to the importance of identification, permeation, and group properties (e.g., entitativity, permeability) in understanding weight stigma and prejudice. ^