The person in the mirror: using the enfacement illusion to investigate the experiential structure of self-identification

Conscious Cogn. 2012 Dec;21(4):1725-38. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Nov 5.


How do we acquire a mental representation of our own face? Recently, synchronous, but not asynchronous, interpersonal multisensory stimulation (IMS) between one's own and another person's face has been used to evoke changes in self-identification (enfacement illusion). We investigated the conscious experience of these changes with principal component analyses (PCA) that revealed that while the conscious experience during synchronous IMS focused on resemblance and similarity with the other's face, during asynchronous IMS it focused on multisensory stimulation. Analyses of the identified common factor structure revealed significant quantitative differences between synchronous and asynchronous IMS on self-identification and perceived similarity with the other's face. Experiment 2 revealed that participants with lower interoceptive sensitivity experienced stronger enfacement illusion. Overall, self-identification and body-ownership rely on similar basic mechanisms of multisensory integration, but the effects of multisensory input on their experience are qualitatively different, possibly underlying the face's unique role as a marker of selfhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors
  • Touch Perception
  • Visual Perception