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The effect of visually manipulating back size and morphology on back perception, body ownership, and attitudes towards self-capacity during a lifting task

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posted on 05.11.2021, 15:35 by Kristy Themelis, Natasha Ratcliffe, Tomohiko Nishigami, Benedict M Wand, Roger NewportRoger Newport, Tasha R Stanton
AbstractBody re-sizing illusions can profoundly alter perception of our own body. We investigated whether creating the illusion of a muscled and fit-looking back (Strong) influenced perceived back size, body ownership, and attitudes towards self-capacity during a lifting task. Twenty-four healthy male volunteers performed a standardised lifting task while viewing real-time (delay < 20 ms) video of their own back through a head-mounted display under four different conditions (Normal size, Strong, Reshaped, Large; order randomised). The MIRAGE-mediated reality system was used to modify the shape, size, and morphology of the back. Participants were poor at recognizing the correct appearance of their back, for both implicit (perceived width of shoulders and hips) and explicit (questionnaire) measures of back size. Visual distortions of body shape (Reshaped condition) altered implicit back size measures. However, viewing a muscled back (Strong condition) did not result in a sense of agency or ownership and did not update implicit perception of the back. No conditions improved perceptions/attitudes of self-capacity (perceived back strength, perceived lifting confidence, and perceived back fitness). The results lend support for the importance of the embodiment of bodily changes to induce changes in perception. Further work is warranted to determine whether increased exposure to illusory changes would alter perceptions and attitudes towards self-capacity or whether different mechanisms are involved.


The Pain Relief Foundation (Grant 110216)

BIAL Foundation (Grant 203/12)

Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship (ID1141735)



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Psychological Research


Springer Science and Business Media LLC


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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at:

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Dr Roger Newport. Deposit date: 4 November 2021