Chubby hands or little fingers: sex differences in hand representation
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Disturbed body representation is a condition defined by the perception that one’s body size is different from their anatomical size. While equal amounts of males and females suffer from disturbed body representation, there appear to be differences in the direction of this distortion. Females will typically overestimate, whereas males will typically underestimate body size. One part of the body that has been consistently misperceived is the hands. This misrepresentation consists of two distinct characteristics: an overestimation of hand width, and an underestimation of finger length. Many of these studies, however, have used predominately female participants, allowing for the possibility that women are driving this distortion. The aim of the present study was to examine possible sex differences in hand perception. To this end, participants estimated the location of ten landmarks on their hands when their hands were hidden from view. Our results indicate that females follow the characteristic distortion, whereas males only underestimate finger length (albeit more than females). These findings are surprising, because the hands are not an area of concern for weight gain/loss. We discuss these findings in relation to body dysmorphia literature.
This study was funded by a discovery grant awarded to Claudia LR Gonzalez from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC Fund #14367) and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI Fund #45561).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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