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Differences in eye-movement patterns between anorexic and control observers when judging body size and attractiveness

Lookup NU author(s): Hannah George, Dr Piers Cornelissen, Dr Martin Tovee


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Attentional biases may influence the eye-movements made when judging bodies and so alter the visual information sampled when making a judgement, and thus lead to an over-estimation of body size. We measured the eye-movements made by 16 Anorexic observers and 16 age-matched controls when judging body size and attractiveness. We combined behavioural data with a novel eye-movement analysis technique that allowed us to apply spatial statistical techniques to make fine spatial discriminations in the pattern of eye-movements between our observer groups. Our behavioural results show that Anorexic observers over-estimate body size relative to controls and find bodies with lower BMI’s more attractive. For both judgements, the controls’ fixations centre on the stomach, but the anorexic observers show a much wider fixation pattern extending to encompass additional features such as the prominence of the hip and collar bones. This additional visual information may serve to alter their behavioural judgements towards an over-estimation of body size and shift their ideal body size towards a significantly lower value.

Publication metadata

Author(s): George HR, Cornelissen PL, Hancock PJ, Kiviniemi VV, Tovée MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Psychology

Year: 2011

Volume: 102

Issue: 3

Pages: 340-354

Print publication date: 16/03/2011

ISSN (print): 0007-1269

ISSN (electronic): 2044-8295

Publisher: The British Psychological Society


DOI: 10.1348/000712610X524291


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