Volume 94, Issue 80

Wednesday, February 14, 2001


Presidential voting demands answers

Change of fortune for Napster

Online learning focus of new fed committee

Dyer predicts democratic China in 10 years

Students shocked by high hydro bills


Couch potatoes get no respect: study

Students say credit is no good

School dress code could be the norm

His Royal Mintiness

Couch potatoes get no respect: study

By Sarah Lasch
Gazette Staff

A recent study from McMaster University suggests that people who do not exercise have less hope of winning popularity contests, than those who do.

"It was found that there are negative stereotypes associated with people who don't exercise," said Kathleen Martin, a co-author of the study and professor from the health and exercise psychology department at McMaster.

According to Martin, there were about 600 participants, both male and female, in the study of mostly university students. She explained the participants were given written descriptions of people named either 'Tom' or 'Mary.' All of the descriptions were identical, except that some contained a line describing the subject as a regular exerciser, some a line indicating the person did not exercise, and some made no mention of whether the person was active or not.

"They were then asked to close their eyes and create a vivid image of 'Mary' or 'Tom' and rate them according to various attributes, including physical and personality qualities," Martin said, adding some of the choices for personality traits included 'lazy' or 'works hard,' 'mean' or 'kind' and 'neat' or 'sloppy.'

"Virtually every single non-exerciser was rated the worst, personality and physical wise. The exerciser and [those described as non-exercisers] were regarded as similar, except the exerciser rated better on physical," Martin said. "The result of the study was very clear-cut. We don't often get that in psychology."

Leora Swartzman, a professor of psychology at Western, said she believes the results of the study make sense. "There is work that other people have done that show similar attitudes. For example, smokers who get sick are blamed or obese individuals are ascribed less desirable qualities," she said.

"It is part of this idea of an aesthetic culture that values self-restraint, self-control, and discipline. People overwhelmingly feel that attractiveness is an extremely favourable quality."

Swartzman said an important conclusion from the study is that while exercisers were not upgraded, non-exercisers were downgraded. She said the study's most significant finding is that people associate non-exercise related traits with whether someone exercises or not.

Michelle Drury, who handles marketing and membership services for Campus Recreation at Western, said she does not believe negative stereotypes surround people who do not exercise.

"I would not go so far as to make that generalization," she said, but added she has little experience with non-exercisers. "Here at work and socially, 98 per cent of the people I associate with do exercise. So that's where my perspective is."

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