Playing videogames is associated with reduced awareness of bodily sensations

Lieke M.J. Swinkels, Harm Veling, Hein T. van Schie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Interoception, or the process of receiving, accessing and appraising internal bodily signals, is critical for health and well-being. However, people can sometimes become unaware of bodily sensations, for instance when they experience embodiment over a virtual body from a third person perspective (3PP) during a body illusion. Here, it was investigated to what degree playing videogames in which an avatar is controlled from a 3PP is similarly associated with a reduction in awareness of bodily sensations, and whether such effects are amplified when embodiment over the virtual body is stronger. Watching video on demand was selected as a conservative control condition. 142 participants who frequently played videogames and frequently watched video-on-demand (VoD; at least once a week) in longer sessions (at least 2 h) completed a survey in which they answered questions about reduced awareness of bodily sensations while playing videogames or watching VoD. As predicted, playing videogames was associated with various forms of reduced awareness of bodily signals, such as being unaware of tiredness and getting less sleep, and this reduced awareness was stronger than when people watch VoD. In addition, as predicted, degree of embodiment was positively related to the amount of reduced awareness, and this relation was descriptively stronger for the VG than the VoD condition. These results show that people may indeed become less aware of bodily sensations such as energy level or sleep when they play videogames. Considerations for health are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106953
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Body awareness
  • Body illusion
  • Embodiment
  • Video games
  • Video-on-demand


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