Attributions and racial cues in news about obesity: Effects on the public's attributions about weight and opinions about health policies

Se-Hoon Jeong, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The attribution framework (Weiner, 1995, 2006) suggests that people's social behaviors (e.g., support or discrimination/punishment) can be influenced by the attributions they make. Based on the attribution framework, this research examined how the public's opinions about support or discrimination regarding obese individuals are based on the public's attributions about obesity. It was expected that external attributions (e.g., blaming the society and the food industry for the issue of obesity), compared to internal attributions (e.g., blaming obese individuals' behaviors) will lead to more positive opinions of support for obese individuals and more negative opinions of discrimination. Based on social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986; Turner, 1982) and group attribution error (Allison & Messick, 1985), it was expected that the effect of attributions on policy opinions will be greater when a racial ingroup is presented as a target. ^ The first study analyzed a survey to examine the relationship between attributions and policy opinion. In the second study, an experimental design was used to test the effects of news about obesity, which contains (a) locus of attribution (individual vs. societal) and (b) racial cues (Black vs. White), on audience attributions and policy opinions. The results of both studies consistently suggested a strong relationship between the public's attributions and policy opinions. The second study suggested a weak effect of news message attribution on policy opinions of support but not on any other outcomes. The study failed to provide evidence for biased attribution and ingroup favoritism. The theoretical and practical implications of this research are further discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Mass Communications

Recommended Citation

Jeong, Se-Hoon, "Attributions and racial cues in news about obesity: Effects on the public's attributions about weight and opinions about health policies" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3346137.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3346137

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