Dressed to impress: The effects of exercise attire and body weight on impressions formed of women
LE3 .A278 2009
Bachelor of Kinesiology
It has been consistently demonstrated that there exists a positive stereotype associated with being perceived as physically active and a negative stereotype associated with being overweight. However, while findings have suggested that the negative impressions formed of overweight individuals may be buffered by exercise participation, no study has examined whether simple sporting exercise clothing will affect the impressions formed of overweight individuals. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of exercise attire and body weight on impression formation of women. Using a 2 (target bodyweight) x 2 (target attire) design, participants (N = 294) were randomly assigned to view one of four photos and asked to rate the target on 21 personality and physical dimensions. Analysis of physical characteristics revealed a body weight main effect (p < .001) where the overweight target was viewed more negatively. Analysis of personality characteristics revealed bodyweight and attire main effects (p < .001) where being overweight resulted in negative impressions and casual attire resulted in more positive impressions. Analysis of the personality ratings also revealed a bodyweight x attire interaction (p = .001) on the mean-kind, sad-happy, and lacks-self-confidence–self-confident characteristics. The results of this study suggest that sporting exercise attire buffers the negative impact of the impressions made of overweight individuals while such attire may have a negative impact on the impressions made of healthy weight targets. This preliminary work contributes to the existing literature on impression formation related to exercise and provides insight into the social ramifications of wearing exercise attire.
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