Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Carol Miller


Research on perspective taking generally points to positive outcomes, but a small and growing body of literature highlights conditions where perspective taking can instead lead to undesirable outcomes. The goal of this dissertation study is to test a model of how taking the perspective of someone who struggles to control food consumption may negatively influence prejudice and discrimination toward heavy people. My model predicts that taking the perspective of someone who is effortfully trying not to eat, which requires the use of self-regulatory processes, vicariously depletes the perspective-taker’s own self-regulatory capacity. Whether that depletion leads to greater expressions of prejudice and discrimination toward heavy people depends on whether the person has high or low levels of implicit prejudice toward heavy people, and how internally or externally motivated the person is to control weight prejudice. Study participants were randomly assigned to read one of three first-person diary entries about a person in a social context where food was present. The degree to which the food described in the diary entry was appetizing, and whether the person was hungry and tempted to eat the food was manipulated. Half of the participants were instructed before reading the diary entry to take the perspective of the person in the story, while the other half were instructed to simply read the diary entry. Self-regulatory capacity was measured and tested as a mediator between perspective taking and both prejudice and discrimination. Effort and individual differences in implicit attitudes about weight and motivation to control weight prejudice were measured and tested as moderators in the model. Results did not support the primary study model hypotheses.



Number of Pages

64 p.