Psychological Research

, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 175–184 | Cite as

The roles of consistency and exclusivity in perceiving body ownership and agency

  • Ke MaEmail author
  • Bernhard Hommel
  • Hong ChenEmail author
Original Article


Previous rubber/virtual hand illusion studies have established important constraints for the illusion that an artificial effector becomes part of one’s own body (perceived ownership), and that its actions are being caused by oneself (perceived agency). We can take these observed constraints to establish two of three Wegner’s (Trends Cogn Sci 7:65–69; Wegner, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7:65–69, 2003) criteria for the perception of personal agency: priority and consistency, but not Wegner’s third criterion—exclusivity. In this study we tested with virtual hand illusion, whether exclusivity (participant is certain who was controlling the virtual effector) can also be established. We manipulated two factors: exclusivity and consistency. Our results show that on both ownership and agency judgments, consistency and exclusivity produced main effects, and the two effects interacted in an underadditive fashion. Taken together, these findings provide support for our suggestion to extend Wegner’s agency theory to explain perceived body ownership, which in turn provides an integrative framework for interpreting constraints on ownership and agency illusions.


Author contributions

KM and BH developed the study concept. All authors contributed to the study design. Testing and data collection were performed by KM. Data analyses were performed by KM and BH. KM drafted the manuscript, and BH and HC provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards


This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700942), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M622936), Chongqing Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Xm2017066), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Chinese Central Universities (SWU116055) to K. M. in China, and an infrastructure grant of the Netherlands Research organization (NWO) to B. H.

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of ethics committee in Southwest University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consents were obtained from all participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Personality and Cognition, Faculty of Psychological ScienceSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Institute for Psychological Research & Leiden Institute for Brain and CognitionLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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