Single, physically active, female: The effects of information about exercise participation and body weight on perceptions of young women

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Kathleen Martin Ginis
Mark R. Leary
Cite this article:  Martin Ginis, K., & Leary, M. (2006). Single, physically active, female: The effects of information about exercise participation and body weight on perceptions of young women. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 34(8), 979-990.


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In this experiment we examined whether information about a woman’s body weight moderates the effects of information about her exercise habits on ratings of her personality and physical appearance. In a 3 (target’s exercise status) × 3 (target’s body weight) factorial design, participants (N = 164) read a description of a young woman described as an exerciser, nonexerciser, or control and who was underweight, average weight, or overweight. They then rated her on various personality and physical-attractiveness dimensions. For the personality ratings, the nonexerciser was rated less favorably than were exerciser and control targets, regardless of her body weight. For the appearance ratings, body weight moderated the effects of exercise habit information such that being underweight countered negative stereotypes associated with being a nonexerciser and being an exerciser countered negative stereotypes associated with being overweight.

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