The Embodiment of Photorealistic Avatars Influences Female Body Weight Perception in Virtual Reality

, , , , , , and . 2021 IEEE Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), page 65-74. (2021)
DOI: 10.1109/VR50410.2021.00027


Embodiment and body perception have become important research topics in the field of virtual reality (VR). VR is considered a particularly promising tool to support research and therapy in regard to distorted body weight perception. However, the influence of embodiment on body weight perception has yet to be clarified. To address this gap, we compared body weight perception of 56 female participants of normal weight using a VR application. They either (a) self-embodied a photorealistic, non-personalized virtual human and performed body movements in front of a virtual mirror or (b) only observed the virtual human as other's avatar (or agent) performing the same movements in front of them. Afterward, participants had to estimate the virtual human's body weight. Additionally, we considered the influence of the participants' body mass index (BMI) on the estimations and captured the participants' feelings of presence and embodiment. Participants estimated the body weight of the virtual human as their embodied self-avatars significantly lower compared to participants rating the virtual human as other's avatar. Furthermore, the estimations of body weight were significantly predicted by the participant's BMI with embodiment, but not without. Our results clearly highlight embodiment as an important factor influencing the perception of virtual humans' body weights in VR.

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