Need a Hand? How Appearance Affects the Virtual Hand Illusion



  • Lorraine Lin (

  • Sophie Jörg (


How does the appearance of a virtual hand affect own-body perception? Previous studies have compared either two or three hand models at a time, with their appearances limited to realistic hands and abstract or simple objects. To investigate the effects of different realisms, render styles, and sensitivities to pain on the virtual hand illusion (VHI), we conduct two studies in which participants take on controllable hand models with six distinct appearances. We collect questionnaire data and comments regarding responses to impacts and threats to assess differences in the strength of the VHI.

Our findings indicate that an illusion can be created for any model for some participants, but that the effect is perceived weakest for a non-anthropomorphic block model and strongest for a realistic human hand model in direct comparison. We furthermore find that the responses to our experiments highly vary between participants.


"Need a Hand? How Appearance Affects the Virtual Hand Illusion"
Lorraine Lin and Sophie Jörg
SAP '16 Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Applied Perception
Pages 69-76



We won the Best Presentation Award at SAP 2016 in Anaheim, CA.



This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1559756.

A big thank-you to Shaundra Daily, Shelby Darnell, Elham Ebrahimi, Nathan Newsome, Tania Roy, and Matias Volonte for helping with the study.