Body Size May Influence How People View the World

Shorter folks perceive a bigger place than tall people do, study finds

FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Your size may influence how you perceive the world around you, a new study suggests.

People were tricked into believing they were either the size of Barbie dolls or 13-foot giants in a study conducted by scientists at Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The study, published online May 25 in PLoS ONE, found that when people believed they had a tiny body, they overestimated the size of certain objects and their distance from them. Those who believed they had large bodies did the opposite, underestimating the objects' size and distance.

This skewed perception of space was evaluated by having participants estimate the size of various blocks, close their eyes and step over them.

"Tiny bodies perceive the world as huge, and vice versa," study leader Henrik Ehrsson said in a journal news release. "Even though we know just how large people are, the illusion makes us perceive other people as giants; it's a very weird experience."

Researchers pointed out their findings might contribute to certain practical applications, such as swapping human bodies with artificial ones. "It's possible, in theory, to produce an illusion of being a microscopic robot that can carry out operations in the human body, or a giant robot repairing a nuclear power plant after an accident," Ehrsson said in the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides detailed information on the human brain and how it works.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: Public Library of Science, news release, May 25, 2011

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