The role of affective touch in whole-body embodiment remains equivocal

Mark Carey, Laura Crucianelli, Catherine Preston, Aikaterini Fotopoulou

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Previous studies have highlighted that affective touch delivered at slow velocities (1-10 cm/s) enhances body-part embodiment during multisensory illusions, yet its role towards whole-body embodiment is less established. Across two experiments, we investigated the role of affective touch towards subjective embodiment of a whole mannequin body within the full body illusion, amongst healthy females. Participants perceived affective touch to be more pleasant than non-affective touch, but this did not enhance subjective embodiment within the illusion and no interaction between synchrony (Experiment 1), or congruency (Experiment 2), and the velocity of touch was observed. Finally, the perceived pleasantness of touch was not modulated by subthreshold eating disorder psychopathology, as measured by means of a self-report questionnaire. Therefore, the present findings suggest that enhancement of embodiment due to affective touch may be body-part specific, and not generalise to greater ownership towards a whole body.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103059
Number of pages15
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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