The influence of three-dimensional cues on body size judgements

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Research has shown that body size judgements are frequently biased, or inaccurate. Critically, judgement biases are further exaggerated for individuals with eating disorders, a finding that has been attributed to difficulties integrating body features into a perceptual whole. However, current understanding of which body features are integrated when judging body size is lacking. In this study, we examine whether individuals integrate three-dimensional (3D) cues to body volume when making body size judgements. Computer-generated body stimuli were presented in a 3D Virtual Reality environment. Participants (N = 412) were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions: in one condition, the to-be-judged body was displayed binocularly (containing 3D cues to body volume); in the other, bodies were presented monocularly (two-dimensional [2D] cues only). Across 150 trials, participants were required to make a body size judgement of a target female body from a third-person point of view using an unmarked visual analogue scale (VAS). It was found that 3D cues significantly influenced body size judgements. Namely, thin 3D bodies were judged smaller, and overweight 3D bodies were judged larger, than their 2D counterpart. Furthermore, to reconcile these effects, we present evidence that the two perceptual biases, regression to the mean and serial dependence, were reduced by the additional 3D feature information. Our findings increase our understanding of how body size is perceptually encoded and creates testable predictions for clinical populations exhibiting integration difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2318-2331
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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