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Self-Illusion: A Study on Cognition of Role-Playing in Immersive Virtual Environments

Sheng Li, Xiang Gu, Kangrui Yi, Yanlin Yang, Guoping Wang, and Dinesh Manocha

Self-Illusion: A Study on Cognition of Role-Playing in Immersive Virtual Environments


We present the design and results of an experiment investigating the occurrence of self-illusion and its contribution to realistic behavior consistent with a virtual role in virtual environments. Self-illusion is a generalized illusion about one’s self in cognition, eliciting a sense of being associated with a role in a virtual world, despite sure knowledge that this role is not the actual self in the real world. We validate and measure self-illusion through an experiment where each participant occupies a non-human perspective and plays a non-human role using this role’s behavior patterns. 77 participants were enrolled for the user study according to the prior power analysis. In the mixed-design experiment with different levels of manipulations, we asked the participants to play a cat (a non-human role) within an immersive VE and captured their different kinds of responses, finding that the participants with higher self-illusion can connect themselves to the virtual role more easily. Based on statistical analysis of questionnaires and behavior data, there is some evidence that self-illusion can be considered a novel psychological component of presence because it is dissociated from Sense of Embodiment (SoE), plausibility illusion (Psi), and place illusion (PI). Moreover, self-illusion has the potential to be an effective evaluation metric for user experience in a virtual reality system for certain applications.


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  title={Self-Illusion: A Study on High-Level Cognition of Role-Playing in Immersive Virtual Environments from Non-Human Perspective},
  author={Li, Sheng and Gu, Xiang and Yi, Kangrui and Yang, Yanlin and Wang, Guoping and Manocha, Dinesh},
  journal={IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},