The relationship perceived between the real body and the mirror image.Perception 2008; 37(5):666-87P
We analyse here people's perception of their reflections in mirrors placed in different positions. In two experiments, participants looked at their mirror image, in a third experiment they looked at another person's image. In both cases they were asked to answer a series of questions about how the virtual body appeared relative to the real body, focusing on different aspects. In experiment 1, they were asked to decide whether the reflections were identical, similar, different, or opposite in terms of the global relationship, orientation, and lateralisation (left right arm). In experiment 2 they were instructed to make simple gestures and to evaluate if the gestures in the reflection were identical, opposite, similar, or different from theirs. Results show that 'identity' was preferred when the mirror was in front, and 'opposition' was preferred when the mirror was below. When opposition was experienced, it was attributed mainly to the exocentric frame of reference. Egocentric left-right reversal was not a common experience, although it was reported more frequently when the mirror was in front. The different roles of the exocentric and egocentric frames of reference were further tested in experiment 3, in which the condition of an observer looking at another person's reflection was studied. Contrary to the emphasis on the egocentric frame of reference in the literature on the 'mirror question', results presented in this paper demonstrate the importance of the exocentric frame of reference in influencing how observers react to their reflections.