Carhoun, Jacqueline

Project title: Body dysmorphic disorder and face perception

Department: Psychology

Faculty supervisor: Dr. James Tanaka

"The growing presence of social media has been linked to a dramatic rise in a clinical disorder known as  Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD is a psychiatric disorder in which a person  becomes fixated on a perceived imperfection and minor flaw on their face or body. In face processing, the person is obsessed with the local details of their face rather seeing the face holistically.

In my study, I will investigate the local processing hypothesis of BDD by selecting university undergraduate students who score high or low on the BDD Scale.  I will take photographs of these participants to create novel composite faces by joining the top and bottom halves of their faces.  In the experiment, participants will view their face or the face of another participant and instructed to focus only on the top (or bottom) portion of the study face.  Next, an own-and-other composite face will be shown and participants must decide as quickly as possible whether the top (or bottom)  is the “same” or “different” as the cued portion of the study face.  If the study face is their own face, I predict that due to their local processing bias, high BDD participants can more easily attend to cued half of the composite face producing faster response times. In contrast, low BDD participants are influenced by the holistic impression of the face resulting in slower response times. Findings from this experiment will have important implications for understanding the sources and possible clinical treatment of BDD."