Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Testing the effectiveness of a weight bias educational intervention among clinical psychology trainees

Abstract Weight bias is a neglected issue in the health professions, including mental health training programs. Even though mental health professionals exhibit many of the same weight biases that are seen at the societal level and among other health professionals, mental health programs rarely provide training on weight bias, weight diversity, or critical weight science. No study to date has tested the effectiveness of a weight bias reduction intervention in a mental health setting. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of a weight bias seminar informed by the attribution‐value model of prejudice. Using a pretest‐posttest design, 45 clinical psychology trainees completed measures of weight controllability beliefs, anti‐fat attitudes, and attitudes toward fat clients 1 week before and 1 week after the weight bias seminar. After the weight bias seminar, participants reported weaker weight controllability beliefs, anti‐fat attitudes, and negative client attitudes. Furthermore, weight controllability beliefs mediated the effect of the weight bias seminar on participants’ general anti‐fat attitudes and client‐specific attitudes. Thus, this study identifies weight controllability beliefs as a potential mechanism underlying the efficacy of educational weight bias interventions in mental health training programs. Future weight bias educational interventions may benefit from application of the attribution‐value model of prejudice.

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