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23-08-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2016 Open Access

Psychological Research 6/2016

Body ownership and response to threat

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2016
Auteurs:
Jing Zhang, Bernhard Hommel

Abstract

A virtual-reality setup was used to investigate the relationship between perceived body ownership and subjective anxiety, as assessed by an anxiety inventory (SA-I). A pilot study confirmed that synchrony between the participant’s real hand movements and the movements of a virtual effector induced perceived ownership illusions. The illusions were comparable for virtual human hands and virtual cat claws, even though the overall acceptance was greater for human hands. In Experiment 1, participants used the virtual effector to collect coins and avoid knives descending on a screen before anxiety was measured. The level of anxiety increased with synchrony and was higher for human hands than for cat claws, but these two effects were independent. Experiment 2 separated effects of coin catching and knife avoiding by means of a between-participant design. The outcome of Experiment 1 was replicated in the knife-avoiding task but not in the coin-catching task, in which anxiety levels were low and not systematically affected by the type of virtual effector. Taken altogether, our findings suggest that subjective anxiety and ownership are strongly related.

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