Self-concept clarity and the bodily self: Malleability across modalities


The self has fascinated scholars for centuries. Although theory suggests that the self-concept (cognitive self-understanding) and bodily self (pre-reflective awareness of one’s body) are related, little work has examined this notion. To this end, in Study 1, participants reported on self-concept clarity (SCC) and completed the rubber hand illusion (RHI), a paradigm in which synchronous (vs. asynchronous) stimulation between a prosthetic hand and one’s own hand leads one to “embody” the prosthetic hand. Whereas participants were equally susceptible to the RHI during synchronous stroking, low-SCC individuals were more vulnerable to the illusion during asynchronous stroking, when the effect is unwarranted. Conceptually replicating and extending this finding, in Study 2, low-SCC individuals were more susceptible to the body-swap illusion—the impression that another person’s body is one’s own. These findings suggest that a clear sense of self implies clarity and stability of both the self-concept and the bodily self.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46(5), 808-820.
Rémi Thériault
Rémi Thériault
PhD Student (Social Psychology)

My research interests include social/implicit cognition, altruism, and dreams.