Examining the effects of altered avatars on perception-action in virtual reality.

In virtual reality (VR), avatars are graphical representations of people. Previous research highlights benefits of having a self-avatar when perceiving-acting while embedded in a virtual environment. We studied the effect that an altered avatar had on the perception of one’s action capabilities. In Experiment 1, some participants acted with a normal, or faithful, avatar whereas another group of participants used an avatar with an extended arm, all in virtual reality. Experiment 2 utilized the same methodology and procedure as Experiment 1, except that only a calibration phase occurred in VR, whereas other phases were completed in the real world. All participants performed reaches to various distances presented visually. Results showed that calibration to altered dimensions of avatars is possible after receiving feedback while acting with the altered avatar. Calibration occurred more quickly when feedback was used to transition from a normal avatar to an altered avatar than when transitioning from the altered avatar back to the normal avatar without feedback. The implications of these findings for training in virtual reality simulations and for transfer to the real world are discussed, along with the implications for the concept of an embodied action schema. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)