The importance of perceptual experience in the esthetic appreciation of the body

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Abstract

Several studies suggest that sociocultural models conveying extreme thinness as the widespread ideal of beauty exert an important influence on the perceptual and emotional representation of body image. The psychological mechanisms underlying such environmental influences, however, are unclear. Here, we utilized a perceptual adaptation paradigm to investigate how perceptual experience modulates body esthetic appreciation. We found that the liking judgments of round bodies increased or decreased after brief exposure to round or thin bodies, respectively. No change occurred in the liking judgments of thin bodies. The results suggest that perceptual experience may shape our esthetic appreciation to favor more familiar round body figures. Importantly, individuals with more deficits in interoceptive awareness were less prone to increase their liking ratings of round bodies after exposure, suggesting a specific risk factor for the susceptibility to the influence of the extreme thin vs. round body ideals of beauty portrayed by the media. © 2013 Mele et al.

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Mele, S., Cazzato, V., & Urgesi, C. (2013). The importance of perceptual experience in the esthetic appreciation of the body. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0081378

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