Norms and attributions about weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic

Rina I. Horii, Traci Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. Weight gain was common during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially creating a new descriptive norm about weight gain. The unique context of a global pandemic may have influenced situational attributions for weight gain that were not typical prior to the pandemic. We examined the effects of the new norm on people’s views about responsibility and blame for weight gain. Methods. In two preregistered surveys, we aimed to manipulate the salience of weight gain during COVID-19, and measured views about responsibility and blame for weight gain. Results. Among participants who gained weight, the more common they perceived weight gain to be, the more they felt their own weight gain was understandable (b = 0.09, se = 0.04, p = 0.02), but perceived commonness didn’t relate to their feelings of responsibility and blame for weight gain. For participants who didn't gain weight, the perceived commonness of weight gain was associated with less blame towards people who gained weight (b = 0.11, se= 1.46, p = 0.044), but not with responsibility for weight gain. Conclusion. Participants believed weight gain was common during COVID, but this descriptive norm had mixed associations with attributions for one's own and others’ weight gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology and Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • attributions
  • descriptive norms
  • Weight gain
  • weight stigma

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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