Background Obesity is a highly stigmatizing condition, and reduced cognitive functioning is a stereotypical trait ascribed to individuals with obesity. In the present work, we tested the hypothesis that stereotype threat (i.e., a depletion of working memory resources due to the fear of confirming a negative self-relevant stereotype when a stereotype-related ability is assessed) contributes to cognitive deficits in individuals with obesity. Methods Computerized tests of (a) working memory and (b) probabilistic learning—an ability unrelated with working memory—were administered to a community sample of 131 adults. Stereotype threat was manipulated by altering the alleged nature of the tasks; the tasks were alternatively labeled as intelligence tests (high stereotype threat condition), memory and learning tests (standard instructions condition), or distraction games (low stereotype threat condition). Results A negative relation between body mass index (BMI) and working memory emerged in both the high stereotype threat (95% CIs = −0.872, −0.175, p = 0.003) and the standard instructions conditions (95% CIs = −0.974, −0.153, p = 0.007), but not in the low stereotype threat condition (95% CIs = −0.266, 0.430, p = 0.643). No effect emerged on probabilistic learning. Conclusion Stereotype threat is associated with impaired working memory of individuals with obesity. Implications for researchers and clinicians are discussed.

Does weight stigma reduce working memory? Evidence of stereotype threat susceptibility in adults with obesity

Guardabassi V.
;
Tomasetto C.
2018

Abstract

Background Obesity is a highly stigmatizing condition, and reduced cognitive functioning is a stereotypical trait ascribed to individuals with obesity. In the present work, we tested the hypothesis that stereotype threat (i.e., a depletion of working memory resources due to the fear of confirming a negative self-relevant stereotype when a stereotype-related ability is assessed) contributes to cognitive deficits in individuals with obesity. Methods Computerized tests of (a) working memory and (b) probabilistic learning—an ability unrelated with working memory—were administered to a community sample of 131 adults. Stereotype threat was manipulated by altering the alleged nature of the tasks; the tasks were alternatively labeled as intelligence tests (high stereotype threat condition), memory and learning tests (standard instructions condition), or distraction games (low stereotype threat condition). Results A negative relation between body mass index (BMI) and working memory emerged in both the high stereotype threat (95% CIs = −0.872, −0.175, p = 0.003) and the standard instructions conditions (95% CIs = −0.974, −0.153, p = 0.007), but not in the low stereotype threat condition (95% CIs = −0.266, 0.430, p = 0.643). No effect emerged on probabilistic learning. Conclusion Stereotype threat is associated with impaired working memory of individuals with obesity. Implications for researchers and clinicians are discussed.
Guardabassi, V., Tomasetto, C.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/640396
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