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Creating body shapes from verbal descriptions by linking similarity spaces




Brief verbal descriptions of bodies (e.g. curvy, long-legged) can elicit vivid mental images. The ease with which we create these mental images belies the complexity of three-dimensional body shapes. We explored the relationship between body shapes and body descriptions and show that a small number of words can be used to generate categorically accurate representations of three-dimensional bodies. The dimensions of body shape variation that emerged in a language-based similarity space were related to major dimensions of variation computed directly from three-dimensional laser scans of 2094 bodies. This allowed us to generate three-dimensional models of people in the shape space using only their coordinates on analogous dimensions in the language-based description space. Human descriptions of photographed bodies and their corresponding models matched closely. The natural mapping between the spaces illustrates the role of language as a concise code for body shape, capturing perceptually salient global and local body features.

Author(s): Matthew Q. Hill and Stephan Streuber and Carina A. Hahn and Michael J. Black and Alice J. O’Toole
Journal: Psychological Science
Volume: 27
Number (issue): 11
Pages: 1486--1497
Year: 2016
Month: November

Department(s): Perceiving Systems
Research Project(s):
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Journal


Links: pdf


  title = {Creating body shapes from verbal descriptions by linking similarity spaces},
  author = {Hill, Matthew Q. and Streuber, Stephan and Hahn, Carina A. and Black, Michael J. and O'Toole, Alice J.},
  journal = {Psychological Science},
  volume = {27},
  number = {11},
  pages = {1486--1497},
  month = nov,
  year = {2016},
  note = { },
  month_numeric = {11}