A social identity model of weight stigma resistance in high-weight individuals 2015


A total of 931 self-classified 'overweight', 'obese', or 'fat' individuals completed questionnaires online. Measures of global self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale; Rosenberg, 1965), perceived stigma (Stigma Consciousness Questionnaire; Pinel, 1999), Ingroup Identification (Multicomponent Ingroup Identification Scale; Leach et al, 2008), internalised weight stigma (WBIS-2F; Durso & Latner 2008, Meadows & Higgs 2019), weight controllability beliefs (AFAQ-willpower subscale; Quinn & Crocker, 1999), and perceived legitimacy (created for study) were collected, as well as demographic information and self-reported height and weight. Participants were aged 18-69, 85.5% identified as female and 83.7% self-classified as White. BMI range was 25.0-95.0 kg/m2. Corrigan and Watson’s (2002) paradox model of self-stigma provides a useful rubric for predicting where an individual belonging to a low-status group may fall on a ‘continuum’ between stigma internalisation and resistance. Their model predicts that in the presence of a salient stigmatised or devalued identity, perceived legitimacy of the group’s low status would be the major predictor of internalisation, with high perceived legitimacy predicting internalisation, and with group identification separating out those who perceived societal stigma as illegitimate into either being indifferent (low group identity) or resisting the stigma (high group identity). Thus, Corrigan and Watson’s non-internalisation outcomes were conceptualised as either “indifference” or “righteous anger.” However, non-internalisation, or resisting devalued status, can encompass a range of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. Thoits (2011) classified both social creativity (e.g., reframing) and social change (e.g., collective action) strategies as forms of stigma resistance, but distinguished between what she called “deflection resistance,” encompassing social creativity strategies, and “challenging resistance,” representing social change strategies (Thoits, 2011, p. 12). Thoits noted that deflecting-style resistance, or social creativity, may leave self-esteem intact, but would be unlikely to increase it. In contrast, she noted that challenging-style resistance provides the opportunity for enhancing self-esteem, either by successfully changing people’s attitudes or behaviours toward the group, or simply as a result of empowerment and agency deriving from the sense of taking action.

Adult participants (age 18–69 years) who self-identified as “overweight,” “obese,” or “fat” were recruited to complete an anonymous online survey on the “Life experiences of overweight individuals.” In addition to self-classified high-weight status, participants were only included if they also had a BMI equal to or greater than 25 kg/m2 based on self-reported height and weight. Invitations to participate in the survey were posted on social media and Internet forums related to weight, weight-loss, health, nutrition, fitness, plus-size fashion, and the size acceptance movement. This purposive recruitment strategy was intended to provide a sample likely to have a range of views on the acceptability of societal weight stigma, both positive and negative emotions about their own body weight, and to differ in their levels of fat identity. A total of 1,154 participants began the study and 963 (83.4%) completed it. Thirty-two participants were excluded for not meeting age (n = 5) or BMI (n = 26) eligibility criteria. The final sample size was therefore 931. Average age was 40.2 years (SD = 11.4, range 18–69, 3.8% missing). The sample was predominantly female (85.5%; 9.7% male, 1.9% other-identified, 2.9% missing), White (83.7%; 1.9% Black, 1.5% Hispanic, 1.2% Asian, 2.1% multi-racial, 8.2% other, 8.1% missing), and highly educated, with 75.5% having a college degree or higher. Mean BMI was 40.2 kg/m2 (SD = 10.8, range 25.0–95.0, 5.5% missing). Additionally, the BMI distribution was evenly spread across the spectrum: BMI 25.0–29.9, 14.1%; BMI 30.0–34.9, 21.4%; BMI 35.0–39.9, 17.9%; BMI 40.0–49.9, 27.8%; BMI  50.0, 13.3%.

DOI https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-854100
Metadata Access https://datacatalogue.cessda.eu/oai-pmh/v0/oai?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=oai_ddi25&identifier=cd7a0fa3c2da4d583caeac5b2160137082911cf2fca1ff48a8b15f48e45e2798
Creator Meadows, A, University of Birmingham
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2020
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Angela Meadows, University of Birmingham; The UK Data Archive has granted a dissemination embargo. The embargo will end in March 2021 and the data will then be available in accordance with the access level selected.
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Numeric
Discipline Life Sciences; Medicine; Medicine and Health; Physiology; Psychology; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage United Kingdom