The Empathy Quotient (EQ) predicts perceived strength of bodily illusions and illusion-related sensations of pain

Aurelija Seiryte, Elena Rusconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


In this study we test the possible implications of high empathising skills on bodily self–other distinction by measuring the strength of a body ownership illusion and a related experience of illusory pain. One-hundred adult participants completed the Empathy Quotient (EQ) questionnaire. Twenty participants from the top quintile and 20 participants from the bottom quintile of the EQ distribution took part in a laboratory experiment. In the experiment, a classical Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) was induced followed by the presentation of a series of painful stimuli to the rubber hand. Participants were asked to self-rate the strength of their subjective experience of the RHI and of the illusory pain. A proprioceptive location judgment on the position of the hidden hand was also required before and after RHI induction, to record drifts towards the rubber hand. We found a significant difference between high- and low-empathy participants in RHI and pain score. The EQ was not related with the proprioceptive location judgement drift. It thus appears to be a better predictor of subjective ownership feelings and phenomenological self–other merging than of the behavioural components of bodily illusions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2015


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