Judging body-weight from faces: The height-weight illusion

Professorship/Faculty: General Psychology and Methodology  
Authors: Schneider, Tobias M.; Hecht, Heiko; Carbon, Claus-Christian  
Title of the Journal: Perception
ISSN: 0301-0066
Publisher Information: London : Pion
Year of publication: 2012
Volume: 41
Issue: 1
Pages / Size: 121 - 124
Language(s): English
URL: http://www.perceptionweb.com/abstract.cgi?id=p7140
Document Type: Article
Abstract. Being able to exploit features of the human face to predict health and fitness can serve
as an evolutionary advantage. Surface features such as facial symmetry, averageness, and skin
colour are known to influence attractiveness. We sought to determine whether observers are able
to extract more complex features, namely body weight. If possible, it could be used as a predictor
for health and fitness. For instance, facial adiposity could be taken to indicate a cardiovascular
challenge or proneness to infections. Observers seem to be able to glean body weight information
from frontal views of a face. Is weight estimation robust across different viewing angles? We
showed that participants strongly overestimated body weight for faces photographed from a
lower vantage point while underestimating it for faces photographed from a higher vantage point.
The perspective distortions of simple facial measures (eg width-to-height ratio) that accompany
changes in vantage point do not suffice to predict body weight. Instead, more complex patterns must be involved in the height ^ weight illusion.
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/916
Release Date: 11. December 2012