Lize De Coster, Pablo Sánchez-Herrero, Carlos Aliaga, Miguel A. Otaduy, Jorge López-Moreno and Ana Tajadura-Jiménez
People are generally unable to accurately determine their own body measurements and to translate this knowledge to identifying a model/avatar that best represents their own body. This inability has not only been related to health problems (e.g. anorexia nervosa), but has important practical implications as well (e.g. online retail). Here we aimed to investigate the influence of three basic visual features—face presence, amount of viewpoints, and observed model size—on the perceived match between own and observed models’ bodies and on attitudes towards these models. Models were real-life models (Experiment 1) or avatar models based on participants’ own bodies (Experiment 2). Results in both experiments showed a strong effect of model size, irrespective of participants’ own body measurements. When models were randomly presented one by one, participants gave significantly higher ratings to smaller- compared to bigger-sized models. The reverse was true, however, when participants observed and compared models freely, suggesting that the mode of presentation affected participants’ judgments. Limited evidence was found for an effect of facial presence or amount of viewpoints. These results add evidence to research on visual features affecting the ability to match observed bodies with own body image, which has biological, clinical, and practical implications.