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The experience of controlling a virtual character affects choice of the character among 8-month-olds

[Speaker] Miyazaki, Michiko:1
1:Otsuma Women's University (Japan)

When you control an on-screen character in a video game, you perceive yourself to be one with the character. The subjective experience of controlling external objects is called extended self-agency, and how this sense develops in infancy is especially important for elucidating the ontogenesis of self-consciousness. However, this evaluation is extremely difficult, because infants during their first year cannot explain their feelings or easily control objects with their hands.
To overcome these problems, we developed gaze-contingent paradigms for estimating infants' spontaneous object control (Miyazaki et al. 2014) and explored the related indices. We prepared two kinds of characters: one controllable by an infant's gaze and one uncontrollable. We presented infants with both characters in turn and examined whether controlling the character affected the choice of that character among 5- and 8-month-olds. Results demonstrated that the 8-month-olds preferred the uncontrollable character, suggesting infants explicitly discriminate the controllable from the uncontrollable character.
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