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Large women more vulnerable to stress over fear of date rejection

Just the anticipation of being rejected for a date can cause stress and low self-esteem in heavier people, especially women, finds a new study. The same conditions, however, do not apply to thin women or heavier men, the study suggested.

sex and relationships Updated: Mar 22, 2016 19:59 IST
A new study examines how the anticipation of rejection — versus the actual experience of it — impacts an individual’s emotional well-being. It finds rejection and devaluation due to one’s weight can lead to negative health consequences.
A new study examines how the anticipation of rejection — versus the actual experience of it — impacts an individual’s emotional well-being. It finds rejection and devaluation due to one’s weight can lead to negative health consequences.(Shutterstock)

Just the anticipation of being rejected for a date can cause stress and low self-esteem in heavier people, especially women, finds a new study.

The same conditions, however, do not apply to thin women or heavier men, the study suggested.

The researchers examined how the anticipation of rejection — versus the actual experience of it — impacts an individual’s emotional well-being. They found rejection and devaluation due to one’s weight can lead to negative health consequences.

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“We experimentally tested whether the mere anticipation of rejection among heavier individuals is enough to lead to downstream negative psychological effects such as decreased self-esteem or feelings of self-consciousness,” said Alison Blodorn from University of California, Santa Barbara in the US.

The team recruited 160 men and women of various body weights, aged 18 to 29, and identified as heterosexuals.

Young adults were asked to give a five-minute speech describing why they would make a good dating partner and were told the speech would be evaluated by an attractive member of the opposite sex.

The same conditions that are detrimental to heavier women have the opposite effect for thinner women who see their weight as an asset, finds a new study. (Shutterstock)

“Heavier women — or those with a higher BMI — thought their weight would be seen expected to be rejected by their evaluator. This anticipated rejection led to lower self-esteem, greater feelings of self-consciousness and greater stress,” Blodorn added in the paper published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

The same conditions that were detrimental to heavier women had the opposite effect for thinner women who saw their weight as an asset, the authors noted.

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The results differed for men. “Interestingly, we didn’t see any of the same negative effects for heavier men,” Blodorn noted.

“Given that weight bias is so pervasive in our society, these findings have huge implications for the psychological well-being of heavier women,” Blodorn stated.

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