Thinness = beauty: Factors that influence women’s cognitive bias toward weight loss

Chia-Chan Chou (Hsing Wu University of Science and Technology), 2018, 46(6), 905–924

The global weight management market is valued at hundreds of billions of US dollars. As a nutritionist, I know that many women who contribute to this industry actually do not need to lose any weight but are misled by the assumption that thinness equates to beauty. It is suggested that advertising of slim features directly leads to women’s cognitive bias that thinness is good. However, other factors may also influence that bias.

In this study, the author used two methods to develop a model that identifies four key dimensions. The first dimension is mass media, which includes TV advertisements, fashion magazines, and film and TV entertainers. The second dimension is important others including family, peers, and other important people. The third dimension is social influence such as fashionable attire, social pressure, and social distance. And the last dimension is individual factors such as body image, psychological feelings, and feelings towards one’s body.

The author also used the analytic hierarchy process method to evaluate the importance of these four dimensions and 12 factors. Mass media had the most significant impact on women’s cognitive bias toward weight loss and TV advertisements was the most important factor of the 12 described.

This study provides a well-established framework to evaluate factors influencing women’s cognitive bias toward weight loss. I expect we will see more studies on this topic as well as studies on how to help women overcome this cognitive bias.

Lily Jia | Publications Assistant
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal