The 'not-so-strange' body in the mirror: A principal components analysis of direct and mirror self-observation

Paul M Jenkinson, Catherine Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


In this study we adopted a psychometric approach to examine how the body is subjectively experienced in a mirror. One hundred and twenty-four healthy participants viewed their body for five minutes directly or via a mirror, and then completed a 20-item questionnaire designed to capture subjective experiences of the body. PCA revealed a two-component structure for both direct and mirror conditions, comprising body evaluations (and alienation) and unusual feelings and perceptions. The relationship between these components and pre-existing tendencies for appearance anxiety, body dysmorphic-type beliefs, dissociative symptomatology, self-objectification and delusion ideation further supported the similarity between direct and mirror conditions; however, the occurrence of strange experiences like those reported to occur during prolonged face viewing was not confirmed. These results suggest that, despite obvious differences in visual feedback, observing the body via a mirror (as an outside observer) is subjectively equivalent to observing the body directly (from our own viewpoint).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-272
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Early online date4 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2017


  • mirror
  • body experience
  • principal components analysis
  • self-observation


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