Altering visual perception abnormalities: A marker for body image concern

Francesca L. Beilharz, Kelly J. Atkins, Anna J.F. Duncum, Matthew E. Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The body image concern (BIC) continuum ranges from a healthy and positive body image, to clinical diagnoses of abnormal body image, like body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD and non-clinical, yet high-BIC participants have demonstrated a local visual processing bias, characterised by reduced inversion effects. To examine whether this bias is a potential marker of BDD, the visual processing of individuals across the entire BIC continuum was examined. Dysmorphic Concern Questionnaire (DCQ; quantified BIC) scores were expected to correlate with higher discrimination accuracy and faster reaction times of inverted stimuli, indicating reduced inversion effects (occurring due to increased local visual processing). Additionally, an induced global or local processing bias via Navon stimulus presentation was expected to alter these associations. Seventy-four participants completed the DCQ and upright-inverted face and body stimulus discrimination task. Moderate positive associations were revealed between DCQ scores and accuracy rates for inverted face and body stimuli, indicating a graded local bias accompanying increases in BIC. This relationship supports a local processing bias as a marker for BDD, which has significant assessment implications. Furthermore, a moderate negative relationship was found between DCQ score and inverted face accuracy after inducing global processing, indicating the processing bias can temporarily be reversed in high BIC individuals. Navon stimuli were successfully able to alter the visual processing of individuals across the BIC continuum, which has important implications for treating BDD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0151933
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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