Spatial action from the perspective of an avatar


Avatars are our virtual representatives and allow us to interact with the virtual world. On the one hand, we control and influence these avatars. We move them around and let them perform various tasks in the digital world, we change their appearance and adapt them to our preferences and much more. On the other hand, avatars also influence us. For example, we have to learn to plan movements and actions performed by our avatar. This poses challenges to human information processing, as a wide variety of transformations are required. For example, a change of perspective may be necessary, or the entire body of the avatar may need to be directed with just a few keystrokes. More complex behavior is also influenced by avatars and it could be shown that we align our behavior with the appearance and characteristics of our avatar. Our goal is to better understand these mutual interactions and to investigate how humans and avatars merge into a single entity.

Current Project Members

Dr. phil. Christian Böffel


If an actor takes the allocentric perspective of an avatar, spatial dissociations arise between the perspective of the actor and the perspective of the avatar. A modification of well-known spatial cognitive phenomena is predicted to the extent with which the actor identifies herself/himself with the avatar. The present project aims at identifying the conditions in which an actor adopts the avatar’s perspective and gathers objective performance measures with various phenomena of spatial compatibility, among them the Simon effect and the SNARC effect (the spatial-numerical association of response codes).


von Salm-Hoogstraeten, S.,Bolzius, K., & Müsseler, J. (2020). Seeing the world through the eyes of an avatar? Comparing perspective taking and referential coding. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 46(3), 264–273.

von Salm-Hoogstraeten, S.,& Müsseler, J. (2020). Human cognition in interaction with robots: Taking the robot’s perspective into account. Human Factors, online first. doi: 10.1177/0018720820933764

Böffel, C. & Müsseler, J. (2019). Visual perspective taking for avatars in a Simon task. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 81, 158-172. doi: 10.3758/s13414-018-1573-0

Müsseler, J., Ruhland, L., Böffel, C. (2019). Reversed effect of spatial compatibility when taking avatar’s perspective. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(6), 1539-1549. doi: 10.1177/1747021818799240

Böffel, C. & Müsseler, J. (2018). Perceived ownership of avatars influences visual perspective taking. Frontiers in Psychology, 9 , Article 743. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00743