Visual biases in estimating body size

Tovee, Martin and Cornelissen, P. L. (2017) Visual biases in estimating body size. In: Practical guide to obesity medicine. Elsevier, pp. 183-187. ISBN 9780323485593

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Western populations have been getting progressively heavier and the prevalence of obesity in the general population has become a major public health problem. A potential contributory factor in the rise of obesity is the inability to accurately detect weight increase using visual cues. This is a problem not only for members of the public whose weight is increasing, but also for health care professionals who need to detect weight gain in their patients. Three main visual biases effect body judgements; contraction bias, adaptation and Weber’s law. Contraction bias (a result of how we estimate body size) leads to people over-estimating the BMI of bodies thinner than the average and significantly under-estimating the BMI of bodies heavier than the average. Adaptation (the effect of seeing heavier bodies in the general population) leads to a shift in what people regard as a normal and acceptable body size towards a heavier BMI. Weber’s law (which requires a detectable size change to be a fixed proportion of the body’s total size) means that size change in obese bodies becomes increasingly difficult to detect. The cumulative effect of these visual biases is to make it harder to detect both being obese and weight increase when obese

Keywords:Obesity, contraction bias, Weber’s Law, adaptation, body image.
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C840 Clinical Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:28069
Deposited On:02 Aug 2017 13:13

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