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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02390

An assessment of computer generated stimuli for use in studies of body size estimation and bias

 Joanna Alexi1*, Kendra Dommisse1, 2,  Dominique Cleary1, 2,  Romina Palermo1, Nadine Kloth1 and  Jason Bell1
  • 1University of Western Australia, Australia
  • 2Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Australia

Inaccurate body size judgements are associated with body image disturbances, a clinical feature of many eating disorders. Accordingly, body related stimuli have become increasingly important in the study of estimation inaccuracies and body image disturbances. Technological advancements in the last decade have led to an increased use of computer generated (CG) body stimuli in body image research. However, recent face perception research has suggested that CG face stimuli are not recognised as readily and may not fully tap facial processing mechanisms. The current study assessed the effectiveness of using CG stimuli in an established body size estimation task (the ‘bodyline’ task). Specifically, we examined whether employing CG body stimuli alters body size judgments and associated estimation biases. One hundred and six 17- to 25-year-old females completed the CG bodyline task, which involved estimating the size of full-length CG body stimuli along a visual analogue scale. Our results show that perception of body size for CG stimuli was non-linear. Participants struggled to discriminate between extreme bodies sizes and overestimated the size change between near to average bodies. Furthermore, one of our measured size estimation biases was larger for CG stimuli. Our collective findings suggest using caution when employing CG stimuli in experimental research on body perception.

Keywords: computer generated bodies, Body size estimation, biases, regression to the mean, Serial dependence, body image disturbance

Received: 22 Aug 2019; Accepted: 07 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Alexi, Dommisse, Cleary, Palermo, Kloth and Bell. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Joanna Alexi, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia,