Honors Theses


Jacob Burmeister, Ph.D. and Lee Dixon, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Stressful experiences such as constantly thinking about one's weight lead to harmful long-term physiological and psychological effects on the body. Many studies have examined the presence of weight stigma in society at large, but fewer studies have sought to determine the physical and psychological outcomes of that stigma. In the short-term, even momentary stressors could have an impact on factors such as blood pressure, for example when patients are stressed due to weighing before blood pressure is measured. This study tested whether female participants’ (N = 55) attitudes about their bodies, anxiety levels, and blood pressures were affected by being weighed. The participants were 55 female undergraduate students from the University of Dayton who were enrolled in introductory psychology courses, or some other course that required research participation. It was hypothesized that being weighed would produce negative outcomes on measures of blood pressure, body satisfaction, self-esteem, and anxiety. Results of a one-way ANOVA indicated that these factors did not differ for participants who were weighed just prior to measurement compared to those who were weighed after. Thus there may be some limits to "white coat syndrome," which is the phenomenon of a patient having higher blood pressure readings when in the presence of a physician or other medical staff. Factors such as the setting and demographic of the person obtaining the measures could be relevant. Pearson two-tailed correlations revealed several significant predictors of high body mass index.

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Undergraduate research



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