Dissecting the visual perception of body shape with the Garner selective attention paradigm

Leah T. Johnstone, Paul E. Downing (Lead Author)

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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The visual appearance of bodies provides important social cues - how are they extracted? We studied two socially-relevant dimensions that are revealed in static body shape – sex and weight. Three experiments using the Garner selective-attention paradigm, in the first such application for body stimuli, found that when making sex judgements, body weight was successfully filtered; however, when judging weight, variation in sex could not be ignored. This asymmetric pattern was not due to differences in the perceptual salience of the dimensions. It suggests a parallel-contingent process where sex and weight are processed concurrently, and ongoing analysis of sex influences processing of weight. A priming experiment supported that view: verbal pre-cues to the sex of a body influenced categorisation of its weight, but weight cues did not influence sex categorisation. This architecture reflects relationships between the shape cues to body weight and sex that are present in the social environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-523
Number of pages17
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number4-6
Early online date16 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Body perception
  • Garner interference
  • sex
  • body weight
  • social vision

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