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Acta psychologica

No consistent cooling of the real hand in the rubber hand illusion.


PMID 28735225

Abstract

In the rubber hand illusion (RHI), participants view a rubber hand that is stroked synchronously with their real, hidden hand. This procedure results in experiencing an increased sense of ownership over the rubber hand and demonstrates how multisensory information (vision, touch) can influence the sense of body ownership. However, it has also been suggested that a (lack of) sense of ownership over an own body part may in turn influence bodily processes. This suggestion has previously been supported by the observation that a decrease in skin temperature in the real hand correlated with ownership over the rubber hand. However, this finding has not been consistently replicated. Our lab has conducted several studies in which we recorded temperature of the hands during the RHI using various measures and in different circumstances, including continuous temperature measurements in a temperature-controlled room. An overall analysis of our results, covering five attempts to replicate the traditional RHI experiment and totalling 167 participants, does not show a reliable cooling of the real hand during the RHI. We discuss this failure to replicate and consider several possible explanations for inconsistencies between reports of hand temperature during the RHI.

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