Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Jay R. Skidmore


Jay R. Skidmore


David Stein


Elwin Nielsen


Lani Van Dusen


Rich Gordin


This dissertation involved the design and validation of the Obesity Cognitions Inventory (OCI) which was intended to quantify cognitions associated with obesity. An initial pool of 117 items was refined through expert ratings, a pilot test involving 59 subjects, and a major test and validation using 217 subjects.

The resulting 56-item instrument contains scales measuring five types of cognitions: Personal Control, Dietary Restraint, Cost-Benefit Beliefs, Health Knowledge, and Self-Concept. Test-retest reliabilities for these scales range from .69 to .83 and Cronbach alphas range from .57 to .82. Concurrent criterion validity of the OCI was assessed through two methods (a) correlations with percent fat and percent overweight and (b) MANCOVA analyses. These procedures revealed that all scales of the OCI except the Dietary Restraint scale were capable of distinguishing cognitive differences among subjects of varying obesity levels.

For males, Personal Control and Self-Concept showed significant differences across obesity levels. For females, Personal Control, Cost-Benefit Beliefs, Health Knowledge, and Self-Concept showed significant differences across obesity levels. For males, subjects of low obesity level were cognitively distinct from those of moderate and high levels of obesity. For females, just the opposite was true, with those of high obesity level differing most from those of moderate and low obesity levels. The only exception to this for females was the Health Knowledge scale where only those of low and moderate obesity levels showed significant cognitive differences.

In general, it was concluded that the OCI shows promise as an instrument capable of quantifying the relationship between certain key cognitions and obesity level. The implications this has for cognitive-behavioral treatment of obesity are considered.



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