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  • New research shows that an individual’s personality type has a direct effect on their attitudes toward other peoples’ body weight.
  • While past studies have shown that there is a correlation between our personality type and our own body weight, they did not assess how personality type might affect our attitudes toward others’ body weight—these researchers from FSU were the first.
  • To investigate, they interviewed over 3,000 women using a survey that allowed them to understand the participants’ views toward others’ body weight, in relation to their personality type.
  • Each big personality trait correlated with a specific view toward body weight: higher neuroticism and extroversion correlated with negative views; higher conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness was associated with more positive views.
  • The stand-out finding was that while those who ranked higher in conscientiousness had less negative views toward body weight, they also were more likely to experience an obesity phobia.
  • There is a need for further research and replication of results, as this study narrowed in on a very specific cohort: mothers.

Quick Summary

A new study “Personality and the social experience of body weight” from Florida State University and published in Personality and Individual Differences shows that an individual’s personality type has a significant impact on their attitudes toward the body weight of others. More specifically, our opinion about others’ weight is directly affected by our unique mix of personality traits.

Goals

Past research shows that there is a connection between one’s personality and their body weight. The researchers of this study, however, wanted to expand on this theory and see if an individual’s personality contributed to their societal views of body weight. These views included what weight is acceptable, what contributes to being overweight or obese, and an individual’s fear of becoming overweight.

Investigation

To explore the potential impact our personalities have on our opinions about body weight, the researchers interviewed roughly 3,000 women (all of whom had children). The surveys they used allowed the researchers to understand the participants’ attitudes and behaviors toward body weight, as they related to the big five personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. 

Results

The researchers had a few hypotheses about what this experiment would reveal, of which were based on what they know about the big five personality traits—some of these hypotheses proved correct, while other findings surprised the researchers. Here’s a comprehensive list of their findings:

  • Higher neuroticism and higher extroversion was associated with more negative attitudes toward body weight: these individuals were more likely to talk negatively about their own weight and were more likely to discriminate based on others’ weight.
  • Higher conscientiousness was generally associated with more positive attitudes toward body weight; however, these individuals also had greater obesity phobia.
  • Higher openness and higher agreeableness were generally associated with all-around more positive attitudes, behaviors, and experiences that had to do with body weight. 

Limitations

  • This study assessed 3,099 different individuals—however, these individuals belonged to a specific demographic: mothers. Therefore, there is a need to conduct further research with a more diverse group of participants.
  • Because this study is the first of its kind (similar studies focused on how one’s personality can affect their body image, but did not look into an individual’s social views and experiences with body weight), this further increases the need for further research and replication of these results.

Sources

Sutin, A. & Terracciano, A. (2019, January 15). Personality and the social experience of body weight. Personality and Individual Differences. Retrieved January 17, 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886918304471

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

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