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What is embodiment? a psychometric approach

Authors
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Psychology
Disciplines
  • Philosophy

Abstract

What is it like to have a body? The present study takes a psychometric approach to this question. We collected structured introspective reports of the rubber hand illusion, to systematically investigate the structure of bodily self-consciousness. Participants observed a rubber hand that was stroked either synchronously or asynchronously with their own hand and then made proprioceptive judgments of the location of their own hand and used Likert scales to rate their agreement or disagreement with 27 statements relating to their subjective experience of the illusion. Principal components analysis of this data revealed four major components of the experience across conditions, which we interpret as: embodiment of rubber hand, loss of own hand, movement, and affect. In the asynchronous condition, an additional fifth component, deafference, was found. Secondary analysis of the embodiment of runner hand component revealed three subcomponents in both conditions: ownership, location, and agency. The ownership and location components were independent significant predictors of proprioceptive biases induced by the illusion. These results suggest that psychometric tools may provide a rich method for studying the structure of conscious experience, and point the way towards an empirically rigorous phenomenology.

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