People watching:The perception of the relative body proportions of the self and others

Linkenauger, Sally Ann and R. Kirby, Laura and McCulloch, Kathleen Cameron and Longo, Matthew (2017) People watching:The perception of the relative body proportions of the self and others. Cortex, 92. pp. 1-7. ISSN 0010-9452

PDF (BodyEstimatesOther_CortexR1 (3))
BodyEstimatesOther_CortexR1_3_.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Download (456kB)


We have an abundance of perceptual information from multiple modalities specifying our body proportions. Consequently, it seems reasonable for researchers to assume that we have an accurate perception of our body proportions. In contrast to this intuition, recent research has shown large, striking distortions in people's perceptions of the relative proportions of their own bodies. Specifically, individuals show large distortions when estimating the length of their body parts with a corporal metric, such as the hand, but not with a non-corporal object of the same length (Linkenauger et al., 2015). However, it remains unclear whether these distortions are specific to the perception of the relative proportions of one's own body or whether they generalize to the perception of the relative proportions of all human bodies. To assess this, individuals judged the relative lengths of either their own body parts or the body parts of another individual. We found that people have distorted perceptions of relative body proportions even when viewing the bodies of others. These distortions were greater when estimating the relative body parts of someone of the same gender. These results suggest our implicit full body representation is distorted and influences our perceptions of other people's bodies, especially if the other person's body is similar to our own.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cortex. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cortex, 92, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.03.004
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
14 Jun 2017 13:40
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:12