Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
L. Alison Phillips
Belief perseverance – the tendency for people to maintain an initial belief even after the foundation for that belief has been discredited – has been documented in relation to a variety of topics (e.g., capital punishment, celebrities, politics; Bui, 2014; Carretta & Moreland, 1982; Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979), but has yet to be evaluated in relation to weight stigma, one of the most prevalent forms of social disgrace (Tomiyama, 2019). Research on belief perseverance has typically utilized the debriefing paradigm, which involves distributing opposing information to two groups of participants before discrediting said information and asking participants to make a related judgment. Such studies have focused on explicit beliefs and have mainly been conducted within a single experimental session (e.g., Ross, Lepper, & Hubbard, 1975). This study expands upon belief perseverance theory and methods by evaluating the potential moderating role of existing (i.e., implicit) weight-stigma beliefs within the standard debriefing paradigm in addition to the inclusion of a prospectively measured follow-up assessment while also examining the possible moderating effects of confirmation bias and anchoring. Participants read a report, which informed them of either a negative or positive correlation between weight and aggression in young adults, before learning that the information provided to them was falsified and randomly assigned. Participants then immediately completed explicit and implicit measures regarding their views on weight, followed by surveys to assess demographics and their level of anchoring, response bias, and confirmation bias. Two days later, participants completed the explicit and implicit measures a second time. Results revealed (1) that belief perseverance did replicate to views on weight, (2) that implicit beliefs about weight did not moderate explicit beliefs, (3) that neither confirmation bias nor anchoring moderated explicit beliefs, and (4) that these findings were consistent as there was a lack of moderation when measured at a two-day follow up.
More, Curt, "Persistent preconceptions: The role of implicit weight stigma in belief perseverance" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 18075.