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Looking at the figures: Visual adaptation as a mechanism for body-size and -shape misperception

Brooks, KR, Mond, JM ORCID: 0000-0002-0410-091X, Mitchison, D, Stevenson, RJ, Challinor, KL and Stephen, ID 2020 , 'Looking at the figures: Visual adaptation as a mechanism for body-size and -shape misperception' , Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 15, no. 1 , 133–149 , doi: 10.1177/1745691619869331.

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Many individuals experience body-size and -shape misperception (BSSM). Body-size overestimation is associatedwith body dissatisfaction, anxiety, depression, and the development of eating disorders in individuals who desireto be thinner. Similar symptoms have been noted for those who underestimate their muscularity. Conversely, individualswith high body mass indices (BMI) who underestimate their adiposity may not recognize the risks of or seek help forobesity-related medical issues. Although social scientists have examined whether media representations of idealizedbodies contribute to the overestimation of fat or underestimation of muscle, other scientists suggest that increases in theprevalence of obesity could explain body-fat underestimation as a form of renormalization. However, these disparateapproaches have not advanced our understanding of the perceptual underpinnings of BSSM. Recently, a new unifyingaccount of BSSM has emerged that is based on the long-established phenomenon of visual adaptation, employingpsychophysical measurements of perceived size and shape following exposure to “extreme” body stimuli. By inducingBSSM in the laboratory as an aftereffect, this technique is rapidly advancing our understanding of the underlyingmental representation of human bodies. This nascent approach provides insight into real-world BSSM and may informthe development of therapeutic and public-health interventions designed to address such perceptual errors.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Brooks, KR and Mond, JM and Mitchison, D and Stevenson, RJ and Challinor, KL and Stephen, ID
Keywords: body image, adaptation, distortion, vision, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, misperception
Journal or Publication Title: Perspectives on Psychological Science
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
ISSN: 1745-6916
DOI / ID Number: 10.1177/1745691619869331
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 The Authors

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