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Hand Size Appears To Stay Constant: Study

Update Date: Sep 30, 2014 08:44 AM EDT
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People generally perceive their dominant hand as staying relatively the same size even when it's magnified, according to a new study. The findings lend support to the idea that we use our hand as a constant perceptual "ruler" to measure the world around us.  

"These findings suggest that our bodies are used as perceptual metrics, meaning that we are more likely to attribute changes in the perceived size of the hand to changes in the world - instead of thinking that our hand has become bigger, we're more likely to think that the world around the hand has become smaller instead," explained psychological scientist and lead researcher Sally Linkenauger of Lancaster University.

Researchers carried out five experiments in which participants viewed their dominant hand and other items, under 18 percent magnification. The noted that the participants consistently estimated their dominant hand to be significantly less magnified than the other items. 

"In most cases, individuals knew that their dominant hand was under the same degree of magnification as another's hands, feet, and objects, yet they persisted to report that what they experience was a smaller degree of magnification for their dominant hand," added Linkenauger. "Individuals typically like to be consistent and 'right,' but this effect seemed to override those affectations."

The findings of the study were published in the journal Psychological Science.

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