Seeing fat people makes you think you smell things

Seeing fat people makes you think you smell things

[Ed. – Unconscious bias!]

Study participants who were shown images of heavy and thin individuals while sniffing odorless substances rated the “scent samples” as smelling worse when they were paired with images of heavy people.

“Our findings suggest that people may hold negative views of heavy individuals that are sufficiently entrenched that they can cross over into olfactory (that is, smell) perceptions though people may not be aware that they hold such views,” senior author Andrew Ward told Reuters Health in an email.

“This is the first study to show that negative bias toward heavy individuals is sufficient to affect smell perception,” said Ward, a psychology researcher at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. …

The extent of negative bias toward overweight individuals may be greater than previously assumed, the authors say.

“Given how pervasive the bias might be, I think it’s important to make people aware of it, especially to the extent that individuals might not otherwise be able to explicitly recognize the bias in themselves,” Ward said. …

Angela Meadows, a psychology researcher at the University of Birmingham in the UK who was not involved in the study, said the extent of negative bias toward heavier individuals is pretty well established. …

“Public health messages and the ‘War on Obesity’ aren’t helping because they frame the fat individual as the villain, and media representations of fat people are almost entirely negative,” she said.

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