Abnormalities in visual processing amongst students with body image concerns

Matthew E. Mundy, Andrea Sadusky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) appear to possess abnormalities in the way they observe and discriminate visual information. A pre-occupation with perceived defects in appearance has been attributed to a local visual processing bias. We studied the nature of visual bias in individuals who may be at risk of developing BDD- those with high body image concerns (BICs) - by using inverted stimulus discrimination. Inversion disrupts global, configural information in favor of local, feature-based processing. 40 individuals with high BICand 40 low BICcontrols performed a discrimination task with upright and inverted faces, bodies, and scenes. Individuals with high BICdiscriminated inverted faces and bodies faster than controls, and were also more accurate when discriminating inverted bodies and scenes. This reduction in inversion effect for high BICindividuals may be due to a stimulus-general local, detail-focused processing bias, which may be associated with maladaptive fixation on small features in their appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bodies
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Body image
  • Faces
  • Inversion effect
  • Scenes
  • Visual processing


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