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08-06-2018 | Original Article Open Access

Implicit preference towards slim bodies and weight-stigma modulate the understanding of observed familiar actions

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research
Auteurs:
Valentina Cazzato, Stergios Makris

Abstract

Mounting research evidence suggests that motor resonance (MR, i.e., the mapping of others’ actions onto one’s own motor repertoire) can be influenced by diverse factors related to individual differences. However, no evidence has been reported so far on the effects of physical appearance and negative attitudes toward obesity to the mechanism of MR. Thirty-six participants (18 normal-weight and 18 overweight) performed a weight discrimination task, in which they were observing amateur actors reaching and grasping a light or heavy cube with or without deception (true vs. fake actions). At the end of each video clip, participants were instructed to indicate the correct cube size (light or heavy). Importantly, body similarity between observers and actors was manipulated by presenting videos of normal-weight or overweight actors. Fat phobic attitudes and automatic preference for normal-weight than obese people were also examined. Signal detection analysis (d′) on the acquired accuracy data has shown that both normal- and overweight participants were able to better discriminate truthful actions when performed by the normal-weight as compared to overweight actors. Furthermore, this finding was negatively correlated with increased scores of fat phobic attitudes in both groups. Hence, for the first time, we provide experimental evidence of action simulation being modulated by an implicit visual sensitivity towards slim bodies.

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