Research Topic

Experimental Approaches to Body Image, Representation and Perception

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About this Research Topic

The size and shape of the human bodies around us carry crucial information about the underlying properties of their owners, such as their gender, health, dominance, attractiveness, and quality as a potential mate. For some, the size and shape of one’s own body is a source of concern, dissatisfaction, and even ...

The size and shape of the human bodies around us carry crucial information about the underlying properties of their owners, such as their gender, health, dominance, attractiveness, and quality as a potential mate. For some, the size and shape of one’s own body is a source of concern, dissatisfaction, and even obsession, especially as a consequence of comparisons between their own figure and that of others. In some individuals, the perception of body size and shape can be significantly biased, such as when those diagnosed with eating disorders overestimate their body size or those with muscle dysmorphia or obesity underestimate their bulk.

Despite the importance of the body as a stimulus, relatively little is known about the mechanisms responsible for the perception and the mental representation of the human physique. In addition, the implications of the underlying processes for attitudes towards one’s own body (e.g. dissatisfaction) and others’ bodies (e.g. attractiveness, dominance, etc.) are not well understood. Many early investigations relied principally on descriptive and correlational methods to uncover the circumstances under which the likelihood of body image distortion was increased. However, more recent studies employing experimental and quasi-experimental designs have helped to rapidly advance our knowledge of the mechanisms and causal factors underlying normal and disordered body perception.

Given the growing body of experimental research focused on body image, representation, and perception, this Research Topic aims to extend these advances, providing important insights into the mechanisms underlying normal and disordered body processing through visual perception and other senses. In this special issue, we welcome empirical contributions from sub-disciplines including (but not limited to) perceptual, cognitive, evolutionary, social and clinical psychology, employing rigorous methods and robust statistical analysis. Submissions may come in the form of Original Research articles (including Brief Research Reports) presenting quantitative data, Reviews (Systematic or “Mini”), and General Commentary/Opinion articles.


Keywords: Body Image, Representation, Perception, Body Size, Body Shape


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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