Indexed on: 28 Jul '16Published on: 16 May '16Published in: The Psychological Record
Research using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) suggests that a positive bias toward thinness, rather than a negative bias toward fatness, might underlie implicitly assessed evaluative responding regarding body image. Because these results contrast with reports of widespread anti-fat attitudes, we aimed to clarify the nature of implicitly assessed evaluative body image responding by using stimuli more central to body image concerns. Seventy-five undergraduates (65.8 % female) completed two IRAPs to examine three aims: (1) create IRAPs sensitive to histories of self-oriented anti-fat responding by using attractiveness-, fear-, and disgust-based stimulus relations; (2) evaluate responses to the different types of stimulus relations on the IRAPs separately and compare them to each other; and (3) examine correlations among IRAP responding and self-report measures of disgust, fear of fatness, and eating pathology. Results showed that participants demonstrated a self-thin-attractive relational bias. Unexpectedly, respondents also showed a self-fat-attractive relational bias and did not display self-fat-disgusting or self-fat-fear responding. IRAP effects for self-thin-attractive stimulus relations were larger than those for self-fat-attractive stimulus relations, suggesting the pro-self bias on these two trial types was larger when relating to oneself as being thin than when relating to oneself as being overweight. Correlations with self-report measures were nonsignificant. Results are discussed in the context of gaining a better understanding of implicit evaluative body image responding and contextual variables that influence IRAP responding.