Original paper

Use of units of measurement error in anthropometric comparisons

Lucas, Teghan; Henneberg, Maciej

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 74 No. 3 (2017), p. 183 - 192

published: Sep 1, 2017
published online: Aug 1, 2017
manuscript accepted: May 2, 2017
manuscript revision received: Apr 24, 2017
manuscript revision requested: Feb 28, 2017
manuscript received: Nov 16, 2015

DOI: 10.1127/anthranz/2017/0628

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140007403001, Price: 29.00 €

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Abstract Anthropometrists attempt to minimise measurement errors, however, errors cannot be eliminated entirely. Currently, measurement errors are simply reported. Measurement errors should be included into analyses of anthropometric data. This study proposes a method which incorporates measurement errors into reported values, replacing metric units with ‘units of technical error of measurement (TEM)’ by applying these to forensics, industrial anthropometry and biological variation. The USA armed forces anthropometric survey (ANSUR) contains 132 anthropometric dimensions of 3982 individuals. Concepts of duplication and Euclidean distance calculations were applied to the forensic-style identification of individuals in this survey. The National Size and Shape Survey of Australia contains 65 anthropometric measurements of 1265 women. This sample was used to show how a woman’s body measurements expressed in TEM could be ‘matched’ to standard clothing sizes. Euclidean distances show that two sets of repeated anthropometric measurements of the same person cannot be matched (> 0) on measurements expressed in millimetres but can in units of TEM (= 0). Only 81 women can fit into any standard clothing size when matched using centimetres, with units of TEM, 1944 women fit. The proposed method can be applied to all fields that use anthropometry. Units of TEM are considered a more reliable unit of measurement for comparisons.


anthropometric dataunits of technical error of measurement (TEM)USA armed forces anthropometric survey (ANSUR)National Size and Shape Survey of Australia