New reflections on agency and body ownership: The moving rubber hand illusion in the mirror

Paul M. Jenkinson, Catherine Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


No previous study has simultaneously examined body ownership and agency in healthy subjects during mirror self-observation. We used a moving rubber hand illusion to examine how both body ownership and agency are affected by seeing (i) the body moving in a mirror, compared with (ii) directly viewing the moving hand, and (iii) seeing a visually identical hand rotated by 180°. We elicited ownership of the hand using direct visual feedback, finding this effect was further enhanced when looking at the hand in a mirror, whereas rotating the hand 180° abolished ownership. Agency was similarly elicited using direct visual feedback, and equally so in the mirror, but again reduced for the 180° hand. We conclude that the reflected body in a mirror is treated as 'special' in the mind, and distinct from other external objects. This enables bodies and actions viewed in a mirror to be directly related to the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-442
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Early online date17 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Mirror
  • Agency
  • Ownership
  • Rubber hand illusion
  • Embodiment
  • Self

Cite this