testing for fat bias
October 9, 2003 04:20 PM

Can someone explain to me the research premise behind the shifting word associations in this test?

What test, you may ask? Why this here weight-bias association test. I went through the test quickly like it asked, and then it told me I like fat people.

I just get a little stuck on those rapid-association tests. I guess it's hard to develop a methodology that effectively reveals people's bias when they know the purpose of your study in advance, but I wonder how this one is really intended to work.


The test in question is sponsored by an organization with a clear "public health" perspective, so I shouldn't be at all surprised or annoyed to at some of the associated information about obesity elsewhere on the site.

But things like this just kind of rankle. I suppose this style of language bothers me no matter what the subject. The intention is good, the ideas in the background of the language are good. I can't complain too much.

For instance, speaking of a person in absentia or by terms the people themselves might not use:

Let us consider the perspective of the overweight person. They experience discrimination, but rather than feel angered or outraged by it, they may accept the notion that they deserve it.

And the wacky slogan: "See the person, not the pounds". No one is a person inside and apart from pounds. The goal of this project is to get physicians to think about the whole body, not just a number, and I get that. I'm with that. But this slogan is oversimplified. (Yeah, it's a slogan, that's what they're supposed to do, I know)

But most irksome is that there's surprisingly little challenge (though there is some) to the idea that fat is unhealthy in and of itself. It's not that simple. I'll return to the thing I say all the time - if fat is unhealthy, so is being male. The correlations to disease are similar.

Still, I can't complain too much. And I still want to know the rationale behind the test method.

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