Understanding the prevalence and correlates of implicit theories of weight in the United States: Insights from a nationally representative sample

Lisa A. Auster-Gussman, Alexander J. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: The primary aim of this research is to understand how mindsets about weight controllability in the United States relate to population health. We examined the distribution of people’s implicit theories of weight, from an incremental (controllable) to an entity (not controllable) mindset, in a nationally representative sample, as well as their relation to: sociodemographic factors, beliefs about behaviour and genetics as causes of obesity and engagement in weight management-relevant behaviours. Methods: We report data from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey 4. Results: A majority of respondents endorsed an incremental mindset of body weight, but endorsement of this mindset was stronger among younger, white respondents, and those with a higher income and more educational attainment. A stronger incremental mindset was related to stronger behaviour and weaker genetic causal beliefs about obesity, as well as a tendency to report increased engagement in weight management-relevant behaviours. Conclusions: Our research provides evidence that although incremental mindsets are more common overall and associated with engagement in health behaviours that can contribute to or detract from population health, incremental mindsets are less common among individuals from more marginalised groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-498
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

Keywords

  • body weight
  • genetic
  • health behaviour
  • implicit theories
  • mindset
  • obesity

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