Use of a real-life practical context changes the relationship between implicit body representations and real body measurements Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2021

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 15

issue

  • 1

volume

  • 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2045-2322

abstract

  • A mismatch exists between people"s mental representations of their own body and their real body
    measurements, which may impact general well-being and health. We investigated whether this
    mismatch is reduced when contextualizing body size estimation in a real-life scenario. Using a reverse
    correlation paradigm, we constructed unbiased, data-driven visual depictions of participants" implicit
    body representations. Across three conditions—own abstract, ideal, and own concrete body—
    participants selected the body that looked most like their own, like the body they would like to have,
    or like the body they would use for online shopping. In the own concrete condition only, we found a
    significant correlation between perceived and real hip width, suggesting that the perceived/real body
    match only exists when body size estimation takes place in a practical context, although the negative
    correlation indicated inaccurate estimation. Further, participants who underestimated their body
    size or who had more negative attitudes towards their body weight showed a positive correlation
    between perceived and real body size in the own abstract condition. Finally, our results indicated that
    different body areas were implicated in the different conditions. These findings suggest that implicit
    body representations depend on situational and individual differences, which has clinical and practical
    implications.