One step at a time to feel lighter: understanding the impact of sound and smell on body image perception

Brianza, Giada and Memoli, Gianluca (2020) One step at a time to feel lighter: understanding the impact of sound and smell on body image perception. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA), 148 (4). a2787. ISSN 0001-4966

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How people mentally represent their body image does not always match their actual body. A negative body image perception (i.e., BIP) can cause risks of eating disorders, isolation, and emotional disease. Thus, being able to manipulate this perception through technology can open up the opportunity to increase healthy behaviours. Previous works showed that technology can be used to change people’s BIP combining visual and tactile stimulation. However, can other senses make the difference? Can audio and smell impact on our BIP? We based our work on a well-established link between walking sounds and the perceived walker’s weight: heavier bodies produce lower spectral mode sounds than lighter bodies. We ran a multisensory user-study in which we altered in real-time the frequency spectra of the sound of participants' footstep. In the meantime, we delivered previously selected scents. Our results show that the combination of audio and scent stimuli can be used to make participants feel lighter or heavier and that highly arousing scents (e.g., lemon) enhance the effect of sound. We discuss limitations (e.g., the use of headphones and wired devices) and potentials of our findings (e.g., the use of multisensory to overcome BIP misperception). With this work, we want to make the community aware of the power of audio on BIP, and inform future research towards the creation of novel virtual multisensory experiences and devices that can positively impact the way we feel about ourselves.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 15:07
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2021 15:04
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