Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Pinel, Elizabeth


This dissertation examined whether factors specific to the perceiver influence whom he/she labels as “fat.” Building upon research examining the role that one‟s level of identification with a group (Castano, Yzerbyt, Bourguignon, & Seron, 2002; Leyens & Yzerbyt, 1992) and one‟s prejudice level (Allport, 1954; Allport & Kramer, 1946) play in the process of categorizing others, this dissertation examined whether one‟s body weight centrality and prejudice against fat people influence whom he/she labels as “fat.” Further, to understand the mechanism explaining the link between these factors and the labeling process, this dissertation also explored whether motivational factors underlie whom a perceiver labels as “fat.” Undergraduate females who self-identified as “not fat” were recruited for two studies that addressed these goals. Study one examined whether perceivers‟ prejudice levels and body weight centrality levels influenced how they categorized others based upon body weight and whether this categorization process represented a threat to the self. Study two examined further examined the role of prejudice and body weight centrality in body weight-based categorization as well as whether the desire to protect the in-group from contamination motivates the categorization process. Hypotheses were tested through a series of multiple regression analyses. Findings suggest that both prejudice towards fat people and the importance that one places upon body weight in one‟s feelings of self-worth predicted the fat threshold. Further, evidence did not support the hypothesized impact of motivational factors on the link between prejudice or body weight centrality and the fat threshold. Implications and limitations are discussed.