Study: Fat Seen As Lazy, Thin Isn't

EDMONTON, Alberta, April 21 (UPI) — A Canadian scientist says a thin person lying down is seen by people as resting, but when an obese person is seen relaxing, people assume they’re lazy.

University of Alberta Assistant Professor Tanya Berry says her study shows such stereotypes about overweight people need to be addressed. Berry says just because a person is overweight, it doesn’t mean they don’t exercise, and just because a person is thin, it doesn’t mean they are fit and healthy.


Berry had a group of study participants look at a number of pictures that would flash on a computer screen. After each photo a word such as “lazy” would appear. After the participants looked at each picture they were asked to say the color of each word.

Berry says when a picture of a thin “couch potato” came up, the participants were quick to say the color of the word that appeared. But when a photo of an overweight person lying down appeared, the study participants paused.

Berry says that slow reaction suggests stereotyped thoughts automatically set in, with the participant thinking about the person being lazy rather than thinking about the color of the word.

Berry says the finding is important because stereotypes can influence the way people behave.

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