Previous research has shown that changes to the body can influence the perception of distances in near space (Witt et al, 2005 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 31 880-888). In this paper, we question whether changes to the body can also influence the perception of extents in extrapersonal space, namely the perception of aperture widths. In experiment 1, broad-shouldered participants visually estimated the size of apertures to be smaller than narrow-shouldered participants. In experiment 2, we questioned whether changes to the body, which included holding a large object, wearing a large object, or simply holding out the arms would influence perceived width. Surprisingly, we found that only when participants' hands were widened was extrapersonal space rescaled. In experiment 3, we explored the boundaries of the effect observed in experiment 2 by asking participants to hold their arms at four different positions in order to determine the arm width at which apertures appeared smaller. We found that arm positions that were larger than the shoulder width made apertures appear smaller. The results suggest that dimensions of the body play a role in the scaling of environmental parameters in extrapersonal space.
Stefanucci, J. K., & Geuss, M. N. (2009). Big people, little world: The body influences size perception. Perception, 38(12), 1782-1795.