Gut estimates: Pregnant women adapt to changing possibilities for squeezing through doorways

John M. Franchak, Karen E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Possibilities for action depend on the fit between the body and the environment. Perceiving what actions are possible is challenging, because the body and the environment are always changing. How do people adapt to changes in body size and compression? In Experiment 1, we tested pregnant women monthly over the course of pregnancy to determine whether they adapted to changing possibilities for squeezing through doorways. As women gained belly girth and weight, previously passable doorways were no longer passable, but women's decisions to attempt passage tracked their changing abilities. Moreover, their accuracy was equivalent to that of nonpregnant adults. In Experiment 2, nonpregnant adults wore a "pregnancy pack" that instantly increased the size of their bellies, and they judged whether doorways were passable. Accuracy in the "pregnant" participants was only marginally worse than that of actual pregnant women, suggesting that participants adapted to the prosthesis during the test session. In Experiment 3, participants wore the pregnancy pack and gauged passability before and after attempting passage. The judgments were grossly inaccurate prior to receiving feedback. These findings indicate that experience facilitates perceptual-motor recalibration for certain types of actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-472
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Locomotion
  • Navigation
  • Perception and action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Gut estimates: Pregnant women adapt to changing possibilities for squeezing through doorways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this