The visual truth of Barbie

The visual truth of Barbie

A group of Swedish neuroscientists determined that the perception of your whole body is affected by the size of your body image. How? By “tricking” people into being Barbie:

A research group at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has managed to make people feel as though they actually inhabited bodies of vastly different size – either that of dolls or of giants. The researchers showed that this fundamentally changed the way people perceived the physical world.  Those in smaller bodies felt as though they were in a world populated by giant hands and pencils the size of trees, while those in giant bodies felt the same objects to be tiny, toy-sized versions of the real thing.

And, similar to the left-leaners:

This research also adds to a growing body of literature that demonstrates that the world we perceive is not an identical copy of the physical world.  Hills appear steeper when we are wearing heavy backpacks, objects appear closer when we desire them, and, as shown here, the world appears larger when we are in a smaller body. Although the world does not actually physically change in these ways, our mind seems to be constructed in such a way that allows a surprising degree of flexibility in perceiving the physical nature of the world. 

On this, David Byrne makes a segue from Barbie to politics to economics:

We instinctively want to believe that a merit-based world exists – that with some hard work, focus, time, effort and perseverance, you too will be rewarded with the body you see on the billboard. The same also applies to our notions of economic well-being. As a result, you have Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich (among many others) implying that poor people are poor simply because they aren’t trying hard enough.

From the neuroscience of Barbie to the neuroscience of vowels, the more that is revealed on perception, the less it appears is visible. What next?