Professor Haans’ less rubbery hands

Since first described by Botvinick & Cohen in 1998, The Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) has been extensively investigated. But few researchers have explored the possibility of enhancing the illusion by making the fake hand a little less, shall we say, ‘rubbery’.

Prompting Antal Haans, assistant professor of environmental psychology in the Human-Technology Interaction group at Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, to perform an experiment  (along with co-investigators Wijnand A. IJsselsteijn, and Yvonne A.W. de Kort).

Their paper: ‘The effect of similarities in skin texture and hand shape on perceived ownership of a fake limb’ was published in Body Image (An International Journal of Research), Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 389-394,

“In the rubber-hand illusion (RHI), people attribute an artificial object to their own body. In the present study, we investigate the extent to which RHI is affected by visual discrepancies between the artificial object and a human hand. We tested Armel and Ramachandran’s (2003) hypothesis that people will experience a stronger RHI when the artificial object is a skin-like textured sheet instead of a tabletop. We did not find support for their hypothesis, but the strength of the RHI diminished when the texture of a hand-shaped object did not resemble the human skin (manipulated by putting a white glove over the cosmetic prosthesis). We provide an alternative explanation for this finding, based on a skill-based sensorimotor account of perceived body ownership. Such an explanation supports Armel and Ramachandran’s more general claim that discrepancies in the nature of expected and felt touch diminish the RHI.”

The paper is available for $31.50 to non-subscribers (Taxes may be applicable.) Or, if you prefer, a substantially similar article can be read in full here – free of charge.


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