Monday, November 12, 2012

Choose Your Words Carefully: How Women and Men Talk about Weight 2

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Another example of womens tendency to describe their appearance and mens tendency to talk about health and fitness is in how they describe what they want to achieve by losing weight. When researchers asked women and men to describe their weight-loss goals, women primarily used appearance-related words and phrases that have to do with looking thin. Examples of their responses include “I want to beskinnier” and “I want to wear a size 6. But descriptors relating toappearance werent the only ones that the researchers heard from the women who wanted to lose weight. They found that women were also interested in their health, but it didnt seem to be as motivating com- pared to their appearance.
In the same research, the male response was very different. The researchers noted that none of the men surveyed ever used the word thin to describe their weight-loss goals (more on this in the next sec- tion). Instead, the men focused on health- and performance-related phrases, such as “I want to be fit” and “I want to get in shape. One man summed up the typical male response when he said, “I want to feel better. I hate being tired and sore all the time. I cant do the things that were once natural to do.Just as there were exceptions with women in the appearance- versus-fitness divide, so, too, were there exceptions with the men. In the researchers’ work with men, they heard men, particularly younger men, express concern about their appearance. Many said that they wanted to look better and fit into clothing that had become too tight or too small. One male study participant reported, “My fat pants were getting tight, and I just didnt like the way I looked.
Based on years of Weight Watchers research, we have concluded that the way in which women and men talk to each other appears to have a profound impact on their weight-loss efforts. Many of the words that women and men tend to use can also have either a positive or a neg- ative effect on the emotional reactions of someone of the opposite gender, and that effect can make a difference to the others weight-loss success.
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