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Val Watham

I want to find out the effect that different fabric designs really have on our perception of someone's size. I would take photographs of volunteers wrapped in different patterns of fabric (stripes, bold patterns, different colours etc. I would then stretch the picture and ask them to reset it to the correct size (as used in body dysmorphia studies). I could then measure how the pattern affected their perception.

Fact title Fact data
Name:
Val Watham
Occupation:
Organisational Consultant
Location:
Berkshire
Age:
53
Question:
What effect do horizontal and vertical stripes have on our perception of someone's size?

How will you research this?

I would take photographs of volunteers wrapped in different patterns of fabric (stripes, bold patterns, different colours etc. I would then stretch the picture and ask them to reset it to the correct size (as used in body dysmorphia studies). I could then measure how the pattern affected their perception.

Background

I would take photographs of volunteers wrapped in different patterns of fabric (stripes, bold patterns, different colours etc. I would then stretch the picture and ask them to reset it to the correct size (as used in body dysmorphia studies). I could then measure how the pattern affected their perception.

Producing the clothes

Val worked with first year fashion design students at the University of the Creative Arts in Rochester to make the outfits to use in her test.

The students designed and made up fifteen dresses and shirts in various sizes, featuring horizontal and vertical stripes, as well as a plain black alternative.

During a fashion shoot, Val recorded the students modelling each outfit and the videos were used to produce an interactive experiment.

Data Gathering

The team took their experiment to Edinburgh Science Festival from 13-15 April 2012, as part of the BBC Bang Goes the Theory LIVE interactive tent.

Over 500 visitors watched and rated the videos to say how tall and wide the model appeared in each outfit. Val and Peter are now analysing the data before releasing the results.

Scientific mentor

  • Dr Peter Thompson
  • Senior Lecturer in Psychology
  • University of York
  • Speciality: visual perception

Results

Val will present her results at the 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' finals, which are being held at Cheltenham Science Festival on 16 June 2012.