Contributions of Visual and Embodied Expertise to Body Perception

Document Type



Psychology (CMC)

Publication Date



Recent research has demonstrated that our perception of the human body differs from that of inanimate objects. This study investigated whether the visual perception of the human body differs from that of other animate bodies and, if so, whether that difference could be attributed to visual experience and/or embodied experience. To dissociate differential effects of these two types of expertise, inversion effects (recognition of inverted stimuli is slower and less accurate than recognition of upright stimuli) were compared for two types of bodies in postures that varied in typicality: humans in human postures (human-typical), humans in dog postures (human-atypical), dogs in dog postures (dog-typical), and dogs in human postures (dog-atypical). Inversion disrupts global configural processing. Relative changes in the size and presence of inversion effects reflect changes in visual processing. Both visual and embodiment expertise predict larger inversion effects for human over dog postures because we see humans more and we have experience producing human postures. However, our design that crosses body type and typicality leads to distinct predictions for visual and embodied experience. Visual expertise predicts an interaction between typicality and orientation: greater inversion effects should be found for typical over atypical postures regardless of body type. Alternatively, embodiment expertise predicts a body, typicality, and orientation interaction: larger inversion effects should be found for all human postures but only for atypical dog postures because humans can map their bodily experience onto these postures. Accuracy data supported embodiment expertise with the three-way interaction. However, response-time data supported contributions of visual expertise with larger inversion effects for typical over atypical postures. Thus, both types of expertise affect the visual perception of bodies

Rights Information

© 2012 SAGE Publications