Having a live huntsman spider on a rubber hand does not modulate the rubber-hand illusion in a top-down manner Academic Article uri icon


  • The rubber-hand illusion is an illusion where a person embodies a rubber hand as if it were their own. After embodiment, many studies have threatened the false hand and measured physiological responses to the threat for the purposes of verification. For the first time, we tested if embodiment of the false hand could be modulated with a fearful stimulus already present prior to the elicitation of the illusion. This was done by having a live huntsman spider placed on top of the false hand for the entire duration of testing. We also examined if the procedure could change implicit attitudes towards spiders. The results revealed that the embodiment of the false hand with the fearful stimulus on top of it occurred as strongly as when the latter was not there, suggesting that the top-down processing of fearful stimuli is not strong enough to influence bottom-up processes. However, implicit attitudes towards spiders did not change.

publication date

  • 2020