The variety and limits of self-experience and identification in imagination

Ying Tung Lin, Vilius Dranseika*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Imagination and other forms of mental simulation allow us to live beyond the current immediate environment. Imagination that involves an experience of self further enables one to incorporate or utilize the contents of episodic simulation in a way that is of importance to oneself. However, the simulated self can be found in a variety of forms. The present study provides some empirical data to explore the various ways in which the self could be represented in observer-perspective imagination as well as the potential limits on such representations. In observer-perspective imagination, the point of view or perspective is dissociated from the location of one’s simulated body. We have found that while there are different ways to identify with oneself in an observer-perspective imagination, the identification is rarely dissociated from first-person perspective in imagination. Such variety and limits pave the way for understanding how we identify with ourselves in imagination. Our results suggest that the first-person perspective is a strong attractor for identification. The empirical studies and analysis in this paper demonstrate how observer-perspective episodic simulation serves as a special case for research on identification in mental simulation, and similar methods can be applied in the studies of memory and future thinking.

Original languageEnglish
StateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2021


  • Episodic simulation
  • Identification
  • Imagination
  • Memory
  • Observer perspective
  • Self-experience


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