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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Development of Self and Other’s Body Perception; Effects of Familiarity and Gender on How Children Perceive Adults.


Our ability to perceive our own and other people’s bodies is critical to the success of social interactions. Research has shown that adults have a distorted perception of their own body and those of other adults. However, these studies ask perceivers to estimate for adults that have similar bodily make-up. This study explored the developmental progression in how children perceive their own body (5-12-yrs-olds) (Exp1) and whether children have similar distortions as adults when estimating the dimensions of adult bodies both unknown (Exp2) and familiar to them (Exp3). Overall, children showed similar distortions to those found in adult’s estimations for own body perception (i.e., limbs with a smaller density of sensory receptors showed a larger error than those with a higher density) and perception of adult’s bodies showed less distortion when perceiver and model were of the same gender, but not when the adult was familiar to the child.

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