An experimental examination of binge eating disorder stigma

Hollett, Kayla (2020) An experimental examination of binge eating disorder stigma. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Background: Individuals with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) report feeling blamed, shamed, and misunderstood, but existing research on the public stigmatization of BED is limited and lacking methodological rigor. At present, vignette studies designed to examine BED stigma have two critical limitations: (1) they lack the necessary control vignettes to accurately assess the nature and magnitude of BED stigma; and (2) characters in BED vignettes are nearly always described as having a larger body, introducing the potential confound of weight stigma. For these reasons, the true nature of public stigma associated with BED is unclear. The current vignette study was designed to examine public stigma associated with BED while controlling for the effect of the vignette character’s body size. Method: Participants (N = 421) were randomly assigned to read one of six vignettes describing a young woman with either BED or no BED, as well as either no mention of her weight, a recommended weight, or an obese weight. Participants then completed four questionnaires to examine stigma in terms of personality characteristics they ascribed to the character, their anticipated emotional reactions upon interacting with the character, their desired social distance from the character, and the extent to which they blame the character for her condition. Results: The character with BED was ascribed more negative personality characteristics and faced less positive emotional reactions than the character without BED, regardless of her weight status. However, participants’ desire for social distance from the character did not depend on whether or not she had BED. Additionally, an unexpected finding emerged where the character was blamed less when she had BED and obesity compared to when she had obesity alone. Conclusions: BED is a highly stigmatized eating disorder, and stigma may have help-seeking implications for targeted individuals. Clinical and public policy implications are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 14745
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 58-70).
Keywords: Binge Eating Disorder, Social Stigma, Eating Disorders, Weight Stigma
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: October 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Compulsive eating--Social aspects.

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