Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The amount of weight reduction surgeries performed in the United States has increased considerably within the last twenty years. Many people choose to undergo the procedure with the hopes of shedding the negative stigma of being obese and improving their life. The purpose of this study was to investigate how society views individuals who have elected to undergo weight reduction surgery. A questionnaire assessing the influence of three variables (Responsibility, Acceptability, and Stigma) on the perception of weight reduction surgery was developed and administered to 503 Midwestern college students. The respondents were presented with one of two vignettes depicting a character’s decision to undergo the surgery. In one vignette, the character indicated that a medical condition was the cause of their obesity and in the other, no medical condition was mentioned. The results revealed that the presence of a medical condition decreased the perceived responsibility for being obese and increased the acceptability of undergoing weight reduction surgery. The results also indicated that respondents who were of normal weight did not have a higher level of perceived stigma when compared to their overweight/obese counterparts. The level of perceived stigma was also found to be higher among respondents who personally knew someone that had undergone weight reduction surgery compared to those who did not. As the amount of surgeries continues to rise, future research on the social and environmental factors surrounding weight reduction surgery will be useful in educating medical providers, insurance companies, families of patients, and the patients themselves about the ultimate personal and social consequences of undergoing weight reduction surgery.

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Psychology Commons