Prejudices among Arab and Jewish pre-service teachers about body image and appearance

Nurit Kaplan Toren, Ronit Schlesinger, Dara Musher-Eizenman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study focused on Arabs and Jewish pre-service teachers’ perception of body image. Body image is a major component of our well-being. Western culture attributes specific characteristics to women based on their body shapes, which significantly influences their functioning. The aim of this study was to examine cultural differences in attitudes towards women’s weight among Israeli pre-service education students. Participants were 558 Arab, Jewish religious, and Jewish secular students all majoring in education. As part of a developmental psychology section on body image and eating disorders, the students were asked to respond to two pictures presenting an overweight and an average-weight woman. The participants in this study were an especially important group, given their future role as educators. Comparisons of the three groups showed only one group difference. Analyses of the entire sample showed that attributes assigned to the overweight and average-weight women differed across multiple vocational, personality, emotional, and self-image dimensions. The discussion addresses (a) how attributions about women’s bodies extend beyond cultural and religious differences, and (b) pre-service education students’ physical appearance stereotypes. Furthermore, the present study findings, underline the importance of pre-service teachers’ awareness of diversity among their students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of School and Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 International School Psychology Association.


  • cultural differences
  • pre-service teachers
  • stereotypes
  • weight bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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