Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Lay beliefs about genes as a causal factor in obesity
Author: Thompson, Victor C.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
BACKGROUND: There is an increasing volume of research into the role of genes as causal factors in human illness and conditions. This is occurring at a time when we know very little about people's beliefs about genes and beliefs about their role in the aetiology of conditions. By understanding what people believe about genes we are then in a better position to assess the impact that information on the genetic links to conditions may have on people. This research investigated lay beliefs about the role of genes in human characteristics in general and whether these relate to beliefs about their controllability. Using the example of obesity, the relationship between a belief in the role of genes as a causal factor and other beliefs, such as, about the controllability, stability and modifiability of obesity, and attitudes towards people who are obese were assessed. METHOD: The research was questionnaire based and incorporated two established measures: the Beliefs About Obese Persons scale (Allison et al., 1991) and the Attitudes Towards Obese Persons scale (Allison et al., 1991). There were four studies: (1) Community - utilising a sample of participants drawn from general practice (N=329); (2) Reliability - where participants were administered a questionnaire on two occasions (N=32); (3) Clinical - comprised of people trying to lose weight who were mostly obese (N=41); and (4) Experimental - where information on genetics was manipulated in order to assess if this could have an impact on beliefs and attributions (N=123). RESULTS: The findings indicated that genes were viewed as playing a significant role in the development of human characteristics and in obesity. Beliefs in the role of genes varied significantly over time. The beliefs in the role of genes as causal factors were moderately associated with perceptions of how controllable the characteristic or condition is. Similar beliefs existed in participants from the general population and those of the clinical sample. CONCLUSIONS: The fear in the medical and scientific communities that a belief in a genetic aetiology of a condition will be associated with a belief that an individual can do nothing to control and change the condition, did not find significant support in this research. The findings raised interesting questions about the cognitive processing of genetic information.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available