Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Educational Specialist (EdS)



Committee Chair(s)

Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Donna Gilbertson


Scott DeBerard


This study examined attitudes and behavioral intentions of eight-grade students toward figures (representing hypothetical peers) of varying body weight (average, overweight, and obese). The primary aim of this study was to investigate how weight impacts students’ attitudes toward and interactions with peers. Second, impact of the rater’s gender was explored. It was hypothesized that girls would rate average-weight figures more positively than overweight figures and overweight figures more positively than obese figures. It was also hypothesized that boys would rate average-weight figures more positively than overweight and obese figures, with less discrepancy between their ratings of overweight and obese figures. One-hundred seventy primarily Caucasian, eight-grade students (72 male, 98 female; mean age = 13.61, SD = .49) were identified as part of a convenience sample from a public elementary school and were randomly assigned to view a target photo of their same gender in one of three conditions: average-weight, overweight, obese. Participants rated attitudes toward the figures on the Adjective Checklist and behavioral intentions on the Shared Activity Questionnaire-B (SAQ-B). Results showed the hypotheses to be partially supported. Students’ responses on the SAQ-B showed they were statistically significantly more willing to interact with an overweight peer (M = 16.33, SD = 4.19) than an obese peer (M = 14.30, SD = 3.83) for active-recreational activities. The overall effect size (males and females combined) was moderate (.51), with a small effect size for females (.42) and a moderate effect size for males (.64). There were no other statistically significant differences on the SAQ-B subscales of active-recreational, academic, and social, or on the Adjective Checklist. Although differences were not significant, effect sizes for social domain for average versus obese and overweight versus obese were mostly small to medium. Conversely, almost all effect sizes for academic were nonmeaningful. Therefore, it appears weight has less impact in academic interactions than the other two areas. Effect sizes were larger for males than females for overweight versus obese on the Adjective Checklist and SAQ-B social and active recreational, showing that males tended to hold more negative views of obesity than females in these areas.



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