Monday, March 28, 2005

Do you know where you are? Body and self not the same

Duck, jab, back flip, shoot! If you've ever played an intensely engaging video game, you know that it can seem like your "self" has been transposed onto the game character--you might even find yourself acting out the character's movements while you are playing.

Normally, we think of our selves as being located in our bodies. Hugging a child brings the child both closer to one's body and closer to one's representation of self. But is it in fact possible to separate our selves from our bodies and, for instance, become part of a video game?

Researchers Arthur B. Markman of the University of Texas, Austin and C. Miguel Brendl of INSEAD in France examined that question. Their findings confirm what any avid video-gamer might guess: "people's representations of self are distinct from their representation of particular aspects of their body."

This finding suggests that "when people are playing with computer games on a screen, that they temporarily locate their self at their location on the screen rather than within their physical body."

It suggests that video-game players' perceptions and actions are affected by having this external representation of self; they might be more likely to perceive and act as if both their body and self are in the game.

So, here's a test. See how long you can keep your drunk ass off the pavement.

Do you know where you are? Body and self not the same


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