Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Elizbeth Lane

Second Advisor

Dr. Christina Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Sarah Sobalvarro


Weight is a complex interaction of several factors, including genetics, environment, adverse childhood experiences, culture, physiology, and emotional circumstances (Hale, 2019). By solely considering the categories of food consumption and individual activity, the belief of personal responsibility and controllability is perpetuated, which may lead to intentional or unintentional harm within interpersonal interactions and throughout medical services (Nutter et al., 2020). Weight bias refers to “stereotypes, negative attitudes, and discriminatory behavior toward individuals with larger bodies” (Nutter et al., 2020). Weight bias can be displayed as discomfort around those in larger bodies, holding beliefs that fat people are lazy or unattractive, teasing or physically assaulting those in larger bodies, or not having an accommodating physical environment, such as narrow hallways or small furniture (Carels & Latner, 2016). Unfortunately, weight stigma is also present within the medical and mental health professions, impacting how fat patients experience health care. This study compared the implicit and explicit weight bias present in mental health and medical professionals and observed whether this bias (a) impacted their treatment decision-making and (b) whether the amount of training in weight-related care impacted one’s bias. The findings of this study did not show any differences in implicit or explicit weight bias between medical and mental health professionals, decision-making for treatment was different for thin patients compared to fat patients, and training amount did not impact weight bias. However, it should also be noted that the amount of training participants received was not a significant part of their training program, and it is possible that more intensive training would show additional benefits in addressing weight bias. Future research should investigate ways to include weight bias in social-justice-based coursework throughout training programs.