Alexi, J., Cleary, D., Dommisse, K., Palermo, R., Kloth, N., Burr, D., et al. (2018).
Past visual experiences weigh in on body size estimation, Scientific Reports, 1 (8),
Body size is a salient marker of physical health, with extremes implicated in various mental and physical health issues. It is therefore important to understand the mechanisms of perception of body size of self and others. We report a novel technique we term the bodyline, based on the numberline technique in numerosity studies. One hundred and three young women judged the size of sequentially presented female body images by positioning a marker on a line, delineated with images of extreme sizes. Participants performed this task easily and well, with average standard deviations less than 6% of the total scale. Critically, judgments of size were biased towards the previously viewed body, demonstrating that serial dependencies occur in the judgment of body size. The magnitude of serial dependence was well predicted by a simple Kalman-filter ideal-observer model, suggesting that serial dependence occurs in an optimal, adaptive way to improve performance in size judgments.