Currently, almost one in every two Americans is overweight and one in every five is obese. These individuals face discrimination on a daily basis in employment, education, and relationship contexts. They are viewed as having a physical, moral and emotional impairment and there is a tendency for others to hold them responsible for their condition. Physicians -- people who are trained to treat all their patients warmly and have access to literature suggesting uncontrollable and hereditary aspects of obesity -- also believe obese individuals are undisciplined and suffer from controllability issues. The current research, conducted by Mikki Hebl and Jingping Xu, examines physicians' treatment of obesity in their patients more systematically by extending past research to look at physicians' behavioral intentions as well as their expressed attitudes toward male and female patients who are of average weight, overweight, or obese. Although past studies tend to compare only overweight and average-weight individuals, this study provides a novel look at multiple increments of overweight by including both overweight and obesity. However, to simplify the presentation of this case study, only the average and overweight conditions will be presented.

Watch a movie of Mikki Hebl describing the experiment.

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