Does owning a “fatter” virtual body increase body anxiety in college students?

Marta Ferrer-Garcia, Bruno Porras-Garcia, Cristina González-Ibañez, Mireia Gracia-Blanes, Ferran Vilalta-Abella, Joana Pla-Sanjuanelo, Giuseppe Riva, Antonios Dakanalis, José Achotegui-Loizate, Antoni Talarn-Caparrós, Joan Ribas-Sabate, Alexis Andreu-Gracia, Marina Díaz-Marsa, Miquel Monràs-Arnau, Eduardo Serrano-Troncoso, Janet Treasure, José Gutiérrez-Maldonado

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

7 Citazioni (Scopus)


This study aimed to assess the ability of a virtual reality (VR)-based software to produce body anxiety responses in a non-clinical sample. 23 college students (5 male) were exposed to an immersive VR environment displayed with an HMD, where the illusion of ownership of a virtual body was induced by means of visuomotor synchronization. Each participant was exposed to three body sizes (from first-person perspective and from third-person perspective reflected in a mirror placed in the virtual environment): an avatar with the same body measurements as the participant, an avatar 20% larger than the participant, and another avatar 40% larger than the participant. BMI, drive for thinness (EDI 3-DT) and body dissatisfaction (EDI3-BD) were assessed before exposure, while body anxiety (PASTAS), fear of gaining weight (Visual analogue scale [VAS], from 0 to 100) and ownership illusion (VAS from 0 to 100) were assessed after exposure to each avatar. Students reported significantly higher levels of body anxiety and fear of gaining weight after owning a 40% larger virtual body than after owning a virtual body with their real measurements. When body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness was considered, only participants with higher scores in these scales showed a significant increment of body anxiety and fear of weight gain after exposure to the largest avatar. BMI had no effect on the results. This study provides evidence of the usefulness of virtual body ownership illusions to provoke weight and body related anxiety responses in individuals worried about their weight and body image and opens the door to its therapeutic use in patients with anorexia nervosa.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)147-153
Numero di pagine7
RivistaAnnual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017


  • Body anxiety
  • Body ownership illusion
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Virtual reality
  • Visuomotor synchronization


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