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Alice in Wonderland: The effects of body size and movement on children’s size perception and body representation in virtual reality

Keenaghan, Samantha and Polaskova, Marie and Thurlbeck, Simon and Kentridge, Robert W. and Cowie, Dorothy (2022) 'Alice in Wonderland: The effects of body size and movement on children’s size perception and body representation in virtual reality.', Journal of experimental child psychology., 224 . p. 105518.


Previous work shows that in adults, illusory embodiment of a virtual avatar can be induced using congruent visuomotor cues. Furthermore, embodying different-sized avatars influences adults’ perception of their environment’s size. This study (N = 92) investigated whether children are also susceptible to such embodiment and size illusions. Adults and 5-year-old children viewed a first-person perspective of different-sized avatars moving either congruently or incongruently with their own body. Participants rated their feelings of embodiment over the avatar and also estimated the sizes of their body and objects in the environment. Unlike adults, children embodied the avatar regardless of visuomotor congruency. Both adults and children freely embodied different-sized avatars, and this affected their size perception in the surrounding virtual environment; they felt that objects were larger in a small body and vice versa in a large body. In addition, children felt that their body had grown in the large body condition. These findings have important implications for both our theoretical understanding of own-body representation, and our knowledge of perception in virtual environments.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date accepted:07 July 2022
Date deposited:05 September 2022
Date of first online publication:11 August 2022
Date first made open access:05 September 2022

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