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My virtual self: the role of movement in children's sense of embodiment

Dewe, Hayley and Gottwald, Janna and Bird, Laura-Ashleigh and Brenton, Harry and Gillies, Marco and Cowie, Dorothy (2022) 'My virtual self: the role of movement in children's sense of embodiment.', IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 28 (12). pp. 4061-4072.


There are vast potential applications for children's entertainment and education with modern virtual reality (VR) experiences, yet we know very little about how the movement or form of such a virtual body can influence children's feelings of control (agency) or the sensation that they own the virtual body (ownership). In two experiments, we gave a total of 197 children aged 4-14 years a virtual hand which moved synchronously or asynchronously with their own movements and had them interact with a VR environment. We found that movement synchrony influenced feelings of control and ownership at all ages. In Experiment 1 only, participants additionally felt haptic feedback either congruently, delayed or not at all this did not influence feelings of control or ownership. In Experiment 2 only, participants used either a virtual hand or non-human virtual block. Participants embodied both forms to some degree, provided visuomotor signals were synchronous (as indicated by ownership, agency, and location ratings). Yet, only the hand in the synchronous movement condition was described as feeling like part of the body, rather than like a tool (e.g., a mouse or controller). Collectively, these findings highlight the overall dominance of visuomotor synchrony for children's own-body representation; that children can embody non-human forms to some degree; and that embodiment is also somewhat constrained by prior expectations of body form.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2021 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:06 May 2021
Date of first online publication:19 April 2021
Date first made open access:06 May 2021

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