Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 317–339 | Cite as

Embodied experience: A first-person investigation of the rubber hand illusion

  • Elizabeth Lewis
  • Donna M. LloydEmail author


Here, we assess the usefulness of first-person methods for the study of embodiment during the rubber hand illusion (RHI). Participants observed a rubber hand being stroked synchronously and asynchronously with their concealed hand after which they made proprioceptive judgments about the location of their hand and completed a self-report questionnaire. A randomly selected cohort was further interviewed during the illusion and their transcripts analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results showed that the IPA group experienced a more intense embodied experience during the RHI, measured by proprioceptive distortion and self-report. IPA revealed four main themes of embodied experience: recalibration of the body schema; violation of the body schema; multisensory integration; and illusory experience over time. The report of agency was a significant predictor of proprioceptive distortion. This study shows how first-person methodologies can be empirically rigorous and how the introspective interview provides a rich, detailed account of embodied experience.


Agency Body schema Embodiment Interpretative phenomenological analysis Proprioceptive drift Rubber hand illusion 



The authors would like to thank Sophie Holmes for help with data collection and Martin Farrell for reading an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Psychology, School of Psychological Sciences, Zochonis BuildingUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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