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10-01-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2020 Open Access

Psychological Research 1/2020

Metacontrol and body ownership: divergent thinking increases the virtual hand illusion

Psychological Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Ke Ma, Bernhard Hommel


The virtual hand illusion (VHI) paradigm demonstrates that people tend to perceive agency and bodily ownership for a virtual hand that moves in synchrony with their own movements. Given that this kind of effect can be taken to reflect self–other integration (i.e., the integration of some external, novel event into the representation of oneself), and given that self–other integration has been previously shown to be affected by metacontrol states (biases of information processing towards persistence/selectivity or flexibility/integration), we tested whether the VHI varies in size depending on the metacontrol bias. Persistence and flexibility biases were induced by having participants carry out a convergent thinking (Remote Associates) task or divergent-thinking (Alternate Uses) task, respectively, while experiencing a virtual hand moving synchronously or asynchronously with their real hand. Synchrony-induced agency and ownership effects were more pronounced in the context of divergent thinking than in the context of convergent thinking, suggesting that a metacontrol bias towards flexibility promotes self–other integration.

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