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Concept: Grammatical person


Immersive virtual reality can be used to visually substitute a person’s real body by a life-sized virtual body (VB) that is seen from first person perspective. Using real-time motion capture the VB can be programmed to move synchronously with the real body (visuomotor synchrony), and also virtual objects seen to strike the VB can be felt through corresponding vibrotactile stimulation on the actual body (visuotactile synchrony). This setup typically gives rise to a strong perceptual illusion of ownership over the VB. When the viewpoint is lifted up and out of the VB so that it is seen below this may result in an out-of-body experience (OBE). In a two-factor between-groups experiment with 16 female participants per group we tested how fear of death might be influenced by two different methods for producing an OBE. In an initial embodiment phase where both groups experienced the same multisensory stimuli there was a strong feeling of body ownership. Then the viewpoint was lifted up and behind the VB. In the experimental group once the viewpoint was out of the VB there was no further connection with it (no visuomotor or visuotactile synchrony). In a control condition, although the viewpoint was in the identical place as in the experimental group, visuomotor and visuotactile synchrony continued. While both groups reported high scores on a question about their OBE illusion, the experimental group had a greater feeling of disownership towards the VB below compared to the control group, in line with previous findings. Fear of death in the experimental group was found to be lower than in the control group. This is in line with previous reports that naturally occurring OBEs are often associated with enhanced belief in life after death.

Concepts: Causality, Science, Perception, Empiricism, Experiment, Reality, Virtual reality, Grammatical person


When people see a life-sized virtual body (VB) from first person perspective in virtual reality they are likely to have the perceptual illusion that it is their body. Additionally such virtual embodiment can lead to changes in perception, implicit attitudes and behaviour based on attributes of the VB. To date the changes that have been studied are as a result of being embodied in a body representative of particular social groups (e.g., children and other race). In our experiment participants alternately switched between a VB closely resembling themselves where they described a personal problem, and a VB representing Dr Sigmund Freud, from which they offered themselves counselling. Here we show that when the counsellor resembles Freud participants improve their mood, compared to the counsellor being a self-representation. The improvement was greater when the Freud VB moved synchronously with the participant, compared to asynchronously. Synchronous VB movement was associated with a much stronger illusion of ownership over the Freud body. This suggests that this form of embodied perspective taking can lead to sufficient detachment from habitual ways of thinking about personal problems, so as to improve the outcome, and demonstrates the power of virtual body ownership to effect cognitive changes.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Perception, Sense, Mind, Grammatical person, Sigmund Freud, Illusion


Humans are tremendously sensitive to unfairness. Unfairness provokes strong negative emotional reactions and influences our subsequent decision making. These decisions might not only have consequences for ourselves and the person who treated us unfairly but can even transmit to innocent third persons - a phenomenon that has been referred to as generalized negative reciprocity. In this study we aimed to investigate whether regulation of emotions can interrupt this chain of unfairness. Real allocations in a dictator game were used to create unfair situations. Three different regulation strategies, namely writing a message to the dictator who made an unfair offer, either forwarded or not forwarded, describing a neutral picture and a control condition in which subjects just had to wait for three minutes, were then tested on their ability to influence the elicited emotions. Subsequently participants were asked to allocate money between themselves and a third person. We show that writing a message which is forwarded to the unfair actor is an effective emotion regulation strategy and that those participants who regulated their emotions successfully by writing a message made higher allocations to a third person. Thus, using message writing as an emotion regulation strategy can interrupt the chain of unfairness.

Concepts: Game theory, Decision making, Personality psychology, Decision theory, Regulation, Emotion, Grammatical person, Rulemaking


Depressive symptomatology is manifested in greater first-person singular pronoun use (i.e., I-talk), but when and for whom this effect is most apparent, and the extent to which it is specific to depression or part of a broader association between negative emotionality and I-talk, remains unclear. Using pooled data from N = 4,754 participants from 6 labs across 2 countries, we examined, in a preregistered analysis, how the depression-I-talk effect varied by (a) first-person singular pronoun type (i.e., subjective, objective, and possessive), (b) the communication context in which language was generated (i.e., personal, momentary thought, identity-related, and impersonal), and © gender. Overall, there was a small but reliable positive correlation between depression and I-talk (r = .10, 95% CI [.07, .13]). The effect was present for all first-person singular pronouns except the possessive type, in all communication contexts except the impersonal one, and for both females and males with little evidence of gender differences. Importantly, a similar pattern of results emerged for negative emotionality. Further, the depression-I-talk effect was substantially reduced when controlled for negative emotionality but this was not the case when the negative emotionality-I-talk effect was controlled for depression. These results suggest that the robust empirical link between depression and I-talk largely reflects a broader association between negative emotionality and I-talk. Self-referential language using first-person singular pronouns may therefore be better construed as a linguistic marker of general distress proneness or negative emotionality rather than as a specific marker of depression. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Gender, Grammatical person, Objective pronoun, Grammatical number, Pronoun, Personal pronoun, English personal pronouns, Possessive pronoun


Epidemiological predictions suggest that dementia will continue to rise and that this will have social and economic ramifications. Effective interventions, beyond pharmacological management are needed. Psychosocial interventions have largely been investigated in relation to carers of people with dementia, or with regards to their ability to manage dementia symptoms, improve cognition, and reduce challenging behaviour. However, since dementia is a life-limiting illness and people with dementia are at risk of having their personhood compromised, psychosocial interventions should seek to enhance personhood, and offer the potential for the person to leave a legacy.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Person, Dementia, 2006 albums, Grammatical person, People, 2005 albums


There has been little research on threesomes, a form of multi-person sex that involves sexual activity with two other people simultaneously. Therefore, we examined young adults' attitudes toward, interest in, and experiences with one form of threesome, mixed-gender threesomes (MGTs), defined as sexual activity involving three people where at least one member of each gender is present. Participants were 274 (202 women, 72 men) heterosexual young adults who completed an online survey. Overall, 13 % of participants (24 % of men and 8 % of women) reported experience and 64 % reported some interest in engaging in an MGT. However, the overall level of interest was quite low and varied according to contextual variables (i.e., what other persons were involved). Men’s interest remained unaffected by third person status as long as the MGT involved familiar others (friends and acquaintances) rather than strangers, whereas women preferred familiar others only for MGTs with which they were the third person, not for those involving a romantic partner. Participants also reported fairly neutral attitudes toward MGTs. Compared to the women, the men reported significantly more positive attitudes and greater interest, and were more likely to report MGT experience. In addition, attitudes, interest, and experience were all positively associated with each other. Taken together, these results suggest that young people are not judgmental about others engaging in MGTs but are not highly motivated to do so themselves. Implications for researchers and sexual health educators are discussed.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Person, Gender, Gender role, Human sexual behavior, Grammatical person, People, Threesome


People performing actions together have a natural tendency to synchronize their behavior. Consistently, people doing a task together build internal representations not only of their actions and goals, but also of the other people performing the task. However, little is known about which are the behavioral mechanisms and the psychological factors affecting the subjective sensation of synchrony, or “connecting” with someone else. In this work, we sought to find which factors induce the subjective sensation of synchrony, combining motion capture data and psychological measures. Our results show that the subjective sensation of synchrony is affected by performance quality together with task category, and time. Psychological factors such as empathy and negative subjective affects also correlate with the subjective sensation of synchrony. However, when people estimate synchrony as seen from a third person perspective, their psychological factors do not affect the accuracy of the estimation. We suggest that to feel this sensation it is necessary to, first, have a good joint performance and, second, to assume the existence of an attention monitoring mechanism that reports that the attention of both participants (self and other) is focused on the task.

Concepts: Psychology, Affect, Grammatical person


This experimental research assessed the influence of graded levels of self-distancing - psychological distancing from one’s egocentric perspective - on executive function (EF) in young children. Three- (n = 48) and 5-year-old (n = 48) children were randomly assigned to one of four manipulations of distance from the self (from proximal to distal: self-immersed, control, third person, and exemplar) on a comprehensive measure of EF. Performance increased as a function of self-distancing across age groups. Follow-up analyses indicated that 5-year-olds were driving this effect. They showed significant improvements in EF with increased distance from the self, outperforming controls both when taking a third person perspective on the self and when taking the perspective of an exemplar other (e.g., Batman) through role play. Three-year-olds, however, did not show increased EF performance as a function of greater distance from the self. Preliminary results suggest that developments in theory of mind might contribute to these age-related differences in efficacy. These findings speak to the importance of psychological distancing in the expression of conscious control over thought and action from a young age and suggest a promising new avenue for early EF intervention.

Concepts: Cognitive science, Philosophy of mind, Mind, Experiment, Thought, Neuropsychology, Grammatical person, Self


Previous work has reported that it is not difficult to give people the illusion of ownership over an artificial body, providing a powerful tool for the investigation of the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying body perception and self consciousness. We present an experimental study that uses immersive virtual reality (IVR) focused on identifying the perceptual building blocks of this illusion. We systematically manipulated visuotactile and visual sensorimotor contingencies, visual perspective, and the appearance of the virtual body in order to assess their relative role and mutual interaction. Consistent results from subjective reports and physiological measures showed that a first person perspective over a fake humanoid body is essential for eliciting a body ownership illusion. We found that the illusion of ownership can be generated when the virtual body has a realistic skin tone and spatially substitutes the real body seen from a first person perspective. In this case there is no need for an additional contribution of congruent visuotactile or sensorimotor cues. Additionally, we found that the processing of incongruent perceptual cues can be modulated by the level of the illusion: when the illusion is strong, incongruent cues are not experienced as incorrect. Participants exposed to asynchronous visuotactile stimulation can experience the ownership illusion and perceive touch as originating from an object seen to contact the virtual body. Analogously, when the level of realism of the virtual body is not high enough and/or when there is no spatial overlap between the two bodies, then the contribution of congruent multisensory and/or sensorimotor cues is required for evoking the illusion. On the basis of these results and inspired by findings from neurophysiological recordings in the monkey, we propose a model that accounts for many of the results reported in the literature.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Perception, Sense, Mind, Reality, Virtual reality, Grammatical person


Agency, the attribution of authorship to an action of our body, requires the intention to carry out the action, and subsequently a match between its predicted and actual sensory consequences. However, illusory agency can be generated through priming of the action together with perception of bodily action, even when there has been no actual corresponding action. Here we show that participants can have the illusion of agency over the walking of a virtual body even though in reality they are seated and only allowed head movements. The experiment (n = 28) had two factors: Perspective (1PP or 3PP) and Head Sway (Sway or NoSway). Participants in 1PP saw a life-sized virtual body spatially coincident with their own from a first person perspective, or the virtual body from third person perspective (3PP). In the Sway condition the viewpoint included a walking animation, but not in NoSway. The results show strong illusions of body ownership, agency and walking, in the 1PP compared to the 3PP condition, and an enhanced level of arousal while the walking was up a virtual hill. Sway reduced the level of agency. We conclude with a discussion of the results in the light of current theories of agency.

Concepts: Perception, The Action, Grammatical person, First person, First-person shooter, Illusion, Third person, Second person