Perceptions of the Size, Shape and Attractiveness of Female Body Scans Relative to Body Mass Index
Type of DegreeThesis
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The purpose of this study was to investigate male and female college students’ perceptions of female body size using 3-D body scan images. A convenience sample of 146 men and 155 women viewed 10 women’s scanned images projected (in PowerPoint slides) in (1) front views, (2) side views, and (3) combined front and side views. The stimuli scans were selected to represent BMI categories as follows: two underweight (BMI of 16-17), three normal (BMI of 21-22), three overweight (BMI of 26-27), and two obese (BMI of 34-35). The images were selected from a group of 100 scans of 5’4”-5’7” women. Within front, side, and front/side view sets, the unlabeled scans were randomly mixed in the presentation. For each image in each of the three sets, subjects were asked to identify (in multiple choice format) the image as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. The research questions asked how accurately all subjects could perceive the four body sizes from the front, side, and combined front/side views; and whether or not there were differences between the male and female subjects’ perceptions. Participants also filled a scale rating of females’ body attractiveness. Majority of students classified normal, overweight, and obese images correctly; however, most students misclassified underweight images. Women’s body sizes were perceived more accurately from the side view compare to the front view. Women perceived normal and overweight body sizes better, while men perceived the underweight and the obese body sizes more precisely. Women’s body sizes were perceived to be more attractive from the side as compared to the front view. Females’ attractiveness ratings were always higher than males did. Body shapes did influence the perception of female body sizes, in this case, for normal and overweight images. There was an inverse linear relationship between perceptions of attractiveness and body size of the female body; as the body size increased the attractiveness rating decreased. Overweight and obese female subjects rated underweight images slightly smaller than did the underweight and normal subjects. Thus, the overweight and obese females’ assessment was more accurate.