Send to

Choose Destination
J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2010 Jun;36(3):759-67. doi: 10.1037/a0017451.

It's all in your head: why is the body inversion effect abolished for headless bodies?

Author information

Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978 Israel.


It has been recently argued that human bodies are processed by a specialized processing mechanism. Central evidence was that body inversion reduces recognition abilities (body inversion effect; BIE) as much as it does for faces, but more than for other objects. Here we showed that the BIE is markedly reduced for headless bodies and examined the reason for this unexpected finding. Two alternative hypotheses were examined. Either the BIE is reduced for any type of incomplete body, or the head plays a special role in discrimination of body posture. Results show that omission of other body parts (leg or arms) did not influence the magnitude of the BIE relative to complete bodies. Analogous manipulations with faces did not influence the magnitude of the face inversion effect. Importantly, similar to effects we found for headless bodies, discrimination abilities for upright bodies and the BIE were markedly reduced for complete bodies that did not differ in head posture. We conclude that intact discrimination of body posture relies heavily on the head position. Our findings also imply that the BIE and the face inversion effect may be generated by different mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center