Fat stigma actually makes obesity smell foul
A new study has revealed that looking at an image of an overweight or obese person could influence one's sense of smell.
Wellington: A new study has revealed that looking at an image of an overweight or obese person could influence one's sense of smell.
In the research, experimental subjects who were tricked into thinking they should smell something reported they smelled less pleasant odours when they viewed pictures of overweight and obese people than when they looked at trim people, Stuff.co.nz reported.
The experimental exercise, conducted by psychology professors at the University of California, Los Angeles, was a clever way to smoke out "implicit association," or prejudice that lies beneath the level of conscious awareness.
The new findings suggested that the extent of negative bias toward overweight individuals might be greater than previously assumed, the authors of the study wrote.
The authors noted that neuroscientists have found that what people see and what they smell, when presented together, often get tied closely together in the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a key role in learning and memory.
Incollingo Rodriguez, the study's lead author, said while some people are overtly biased, others might not even be aware that they harbor negative feelings toward heavy people.
But many believe the first step toward addressing unconscious prejudice is to unmask it: to make the implicit explicit.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.