Effect of counselor obesity on client perceptions and expectations
Counselor physical attractiveness has been shown to affect subject perceptions and expectations. One characteristic which is particularly at odds with the attractiveness ideal is obesity. This study examined the potential effect of counselor obesity level on subjects' perceptions, expectations, and willingness to pursue counseling. Two hundred twenty-five students (146 women and 79 men) participated. Each subject rated one of six randomly selected counselor descriptions, including a photograph when appropriate, on the dependent measures (i.e., Counselor Rating Form-Short Version, Personal Problem Inventory, and questions rating physical attractiveness and willingness to pursue counseling). The data were analyzed using 2 (Gender of Counselor) X 3 (Obesity Level: Obese, Nonobese, Control) and 2 (Gender of Counselor) X 3 (Obesity Level) X 2 (Gender of Subject) ANOVA and MANOVA techniques, as appropriate. Male subjects perceived obese counselors to be less expert than did females. No other statistically significant differences based on Counselor Obesity Level were identified. Instead, main effects for both Gender of Counselor and Gender of Subject were obtained. Generally, the woman counselor was rated more positively than the man. Also, women subjects generally gave more positive ratings than did men. While the effects identified were statistically significant, their small effect sizes and small mean differences may limit their practical effect. Obesity level does not appear to affect how counselors are perceived or treated, particularly when they are moderately obese.