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Being Barbie: the size of one's own body determines the perceived size of the world.

van der Hoort B, Guterstam A, Ehrsson HH - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: These effects were quantified in ten separate experiments with complementary verbal, questionnaire, manual, walking, and physiological measures.Importantly, despite identical retinal input, this "body size effect" was greater when the participants experienced a sense of ownership of the artificial bodies compared to a control condition in which ownership was disrupted.Thus, our own body size affects how we perceive the world.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Brain, Body and Self Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. bvdhoort@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
A classical question in philosophy and psychology is if the sense of one's body influences how one visually perceives the world. Several theoreticians have suggested that our own body serves as a fundamental reference in visual perception of sizes and distances, although compelling experimental evidence for this hypothesis is lacking. In contrast, modern textbooks typically explain the perception of object size and distance by the combination of information from different visual cues. Here, we describe full body illusions in which subjects experience the ownership of a doll's body (80 cm or 30 cm) and a giant's body (400 cm) and use these as tools to demonstrate that the size of one's sensed own body directly influences the perception of object size and distance. These effects were quantified in ten separate experiments with complementary verbal, questionnaire, manual, walking, and physiological measures. When participants experienced the tiny body as their own, they perceived objects to be larger and farther away, and when they experienced the large-body illusion, they perceived objects to be smaller and nearer. Importantly, despite identical retinal input, this "body size effect" was greater when the participants experienced a sense of ownership of the artificial bodies compared to a control condition in which ownership was disrupted. These findings are fundamentally important as they suggest a causal relationship between the representations of body space and external space. Thus, our own body size affects how we perceive the world.

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Results of Experiment 5: Illusory ownership of the body of a Barbie doll.Average scores for illusion statements, control statements and statements regarding the size of seen objects (see Table S1). ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001. Error bars indicate SEM.
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pone-0020195-g003: Results of Experiment 5: Illusory ownership of the body of a Barbie doll.Average scores for illusion statements, control statements and statements regarding the size of seen objects (see Table S1). ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001. Error bars indicate SEM.

Mentions: In a final demonstration of this illusion, we wanted to investigate the subjective feeling of body ownership with a tiny Barbie doll (30 cm) (Experiment 5, see Figure 1D). The motivation for this last experiment was two-fold. First, we wanted to demonstrate that the small-body illusion works with an extraordinarily small body (a Barbie doll). Second, we wanted to show that the sight of people and well-known objects would not break the illusion. The basic method of this experiment was similar to the method of Experiments 1 and 2. The doll's body was subsequently touched with a small rod, a pencil, and the experimenter's finger. After the four minutes of synchronous visuotactile stimulation, participants gave significantly higher ratings on the illusion statements compared to the control statements (t8 = 6.037, p<0.001; paired t-test, see Figure 3). In the same questionnaire (see Table S1), participants also agreed on the illusion statements regarding the size of the pencil and the finger they had seen (t8 = 4.599, p<0.01; paired t-test, see Figure 3) (see Figure S2 for results for each individual statement).


Being Barbie: the size of one's own body determines the perceived size of the world.

van der Hoort B, Guterstam A, Ehrsson HH - PLoS ONE (2011)

Results of Experiment 5: Illusory ownership of the body of a Barbie doll.Average scores for illusion statements, control statements and statements regarding the size of seen objects (see Table S1). ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001. Error bars indicate SEM.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3102093&req=5

pone-0020195-g003: Results of Experiment 5: Illusory ownership of the body of a Barbie doll.Average scores for illusion statements, control statements and statements regarding the size of seen objects (see Table S1). ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001. Error bars indicate SEM.
Mentions: In a final demonstration of this illusion, we wanted to investigate the subjective feeling of body ownership with a tiny Barbie doll (30 cm) (Experiment 5, see Figure 1D). The motivation for this last experiment was two-fold. First, we wanted to demonstrate that the small-body illusion works with an extraordinarily small body (a Barbie doll). Second, we wanted to show that the sight of people and well-known objects would not break the illusion. The basic method of this experiment was similar to the method of Experiments 1 and 2. The doll's body was subsequently touched with a small rod, a pencil, and the experimenter's finger. After the four minutes of synchronous visuotactile stimulation, participants gave significantly higher ratings on the illusion statements compared to the control statements (t8 = 6.037, p<0.001; paired t-test, see Figure 3). In the same questionnaire (see Table S1), participants also agreed on the illusion statements regarding the size of the pencil and the finger they had seen (t8 = 4.599, p<0.01; paired t-test, see Figure 3) (see Figure S2 for results for each individual statement).

Bottom Line: These effects were quantified in ten separate experiments with complementary verbal, questionnaire, manual, walking, and physiological measures.Importantly, despite identical retinal input, this "body size effect" was greater when the participants experienced a sense of ownership of the artificial bodies compared to a control condition in which ownership was disrupted.Thus, our own body size affects how we perceive the world.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Brain, Body and Self Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. bvdhoort@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
A classical question in philosophy and psychology is if the sense of one's body influences how one visually perceives the world. Several theoreticians have suggested that our own body serves as a fundamental reference in visual perception of sizes and distances, although compelling experimental evidence for this hypothesis is lacking. In contrast, modern textbooks typically explain the perception of object size and distance by the combination of information from different visual cues. Here, we describe full body illusions in which subjects experience the ownership of a doll's body (80 cm or 30 cm) and a giant's body (400 cm) and use these as tools to demonstrate that the size of one's sensed own body directly influences the perception of object size and distance. These effects were quantified in ten separate experiments with complementary verbal, questionnaire, manual, walking, and physiological measures. When participants experienced the tiny body as their own, they perceived objects to be larger and farther away, and when they experienced the large-body illusion, they perceived objects to be smaller and nearer. Importantly, despite identical retinal input, this "body size effect" was greater when the participants experienced a sense of ownership of the artificial bodies compared to a control condition in which ownership was disrupted. These findings are fundamentally important as they suggest a causal relationship between the representations of body space and external space. Thus, our own body size affects how we perceive the world.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus