Using a storybook model, researchers at the University of Leeds (England) displayed character prototypes with different body types and handicaps. The characters were either overweight, normal weight, or disabled.
Researchers used those three models to determine the subconscious feelings and responses of children.
Professor Andrew Hill studied the responses from 150 primary school students in the UK. Mr. Hill gave each child a storybook with the same plotline but featuring different character types. The story involved three children who were trying to get their cat out of a tree.
After reading each story, the children were asked to rate Alfie (the overweight child), Thomas (the normal weight child), and another Alfie character who was normal weight but in a wheelchair.
According to the research, children projected a “clear bias” in voicing negative views about the fat kid. The normal weight Alfie character was favored most strongly by children. In fact, only one of 43 children decided not to befriend Alfie.
Children in the study said Fat Alfie was less likely to win a race, less likely to be a good student, and less likely to be confident with his appearance. The children also noted that Fat Alfie probably wouldn’t be invited to parties and would likely be a troublemaker.
Children also said the Wheelchair-Bound Alfie was less likely to do well in school and less likely to be invited to parties or outright rejected from attending.
Researchers also presented a female version with the same story. In the female version, the normal character was given the name Holly and the heavy character was given the name Alfina. In that portion of the study, only two of 30 kids befriended Alfina.
The study found that children would rather befriend normal weight children and disabled children than the “fat kid.”
Professor Hill writes: “This research confirms young children’s awareness of the huge societal interest in body size.”
Are you surprised by a young child’s ability to discriminate based on body weight?
Children Don’t Want To Be Friends With The Fat Kid, Study Reveals: http://www.inquisitr.com/662197/children-dont-want-to-be-friends-with-the-fat-kid-study-reveals