Body size stigmatization in preschool children: The role of control attributions

Dara R. Musher-Eizenman, Shayla C. Holub, Amy Barnhart Miller, Sara E. Goldstein, Laura Edwards-Leeper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study assessed preschool-age children's control attributions for weight and the relationship of these attributions to attitudes and behavioral intentions toward children of different body sizes. Methods: Forty-two children (mean age = 5.2 years) were interviewed about the adjectives they attributed to figures of different sizes, their preference for size in playmates, and their beliefs about children's ability to control their own weight. Results: Adjective ratings for obese figures were the most negative, with no differences found for thin and average figures; the heaviest figure was also chosen less often than other figures to be a playmate. Internal attributions of control for weight were related to less positive adjective ratings for the heavier figure but not to children's friendship selections. Conclusion: Results suggest that the relationship between body size stigmatization and control attributions are consistent with attribution theory for young children. Practical implications of these results and possible interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-620
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Attribution theory
  • Body size
  • Obesity (attitudes toward)
  • Preschoolers


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