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Young Children’s Pro-Social Behavioural Intentions towards Obese Peers

Dearing, Gemma (2018) Young Children’s Pro-Social Behavioural Intentions towards Obese Peers. D.Clin.Psychol thesis, University of Leeds.

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Stigma against obesity has been demonstrated in children as young as 3 years old. Previous research has emphasised the negative attitudes displayed by young children towards peers with obesity however, far less consideration has been given to positive social interactions, such as pro-social behaviour. The aim of this study was to further explore young children’s attitudes towards peers with obesity across a range of pro-social behaviours. Young children (aged 4-6 years old, n=72) were asked to select characters with either healthy weight or obesity in a story involving different pro-social scenarios (helping, sharing & comforting) and asked to give a reason for their character selection. The frequency of character selections were analysed as well as using thematic analysis to identify the themes in children’s reasoning. Comments were also coded for valence and linked to children’s character selection. In line with expectations, children were less likely to choose a character with obesity as a playmate. Girls were less likely to help and comfort a character with obesity and boys less likely to share. Overall there was little evidence of negativity towards the characters with obesity within children’s reasoning, although two children were consistently negative. These findings indicate that young children may have unconscious bias against obesity or that they are not attuned to obesity any more than other physical differences. This study suggests that for the majority of young children, stigma against obesity is not as pervasive as has been portrayed in earlier research. Young children may not require interventions to reduce obesity stigma, however, promoting pro-social behaviour generally may help with peer acceptance and prevent stigma against obesity from developing.

Item Type: Thesis (D.Clin.Psychol)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Health Sciences (Leeds) > Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences (Leeds)
Depositing User: miss gemma dearing
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2018 11:17
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2018 11:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22328

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