Implicit theories of the causes of weight gain in adults


This study sought to explore the range of beliefs about weight gain and whether these beliefs varied according to personal weight management history. A questionnaire specifically designed for the study was completed by 376 participants (94 males, 282 females; mean age 43.65 years, SD=13.24). Principal component analysis identified five causal attribution factors which were interpreted as Lack-of-Self-Control, Lifestyle-Limitations, Psychological, Biological/Medical, and Modern-Living. The level of endorsement for these causal attribution factors suggested an acknowledgement of the multiple causes to weight gain. However, the most highly endorsed factor, Lack-of-Self Control, reflected the “commonsense” view of weight gain being a matter of overeating, under-exercising and lacking in self control. Personal weight management history was found to be associated with variations in beliefs with the more effort one had applied to weight management; the more highly they endorsed causes both within and outside of individual control.

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