In two experiments, we show that the beliefs women have about the controllability of their weight (i.e., weight locus of control) influences their responses to advertisements featuring a larger-sized female model or a slim female model. Further, we examine self-referencing as a mechanism for these effects. Specifically, people who believe they can control their weight (“internals”), respond most favorably to slim models in advertising, and this favorable response is mediated by self-referencing. In contrast, people who feel powerless about their weight (“externals”), self-reference larger-sized models, but only prefer larger-sized models when the advertisement is for a non-fattening product. For fattening products, they exhibit a similar preference for larger-sized models and slim models. Together, these experiments shed light on the effect of model body size and the role of weight locus of control in influencing consumer attitudes
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