Doppelgangers: A New Form of Self

Bailenson, J.N. (2012). Doppelgangers: A New Form of Self. The Psychologist, 25 (1), 36-39.


Humans have long been able to see their reflections in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Since the past century, film and video technology has provided a way to view the self ‘asynchronously’, such that the video image shows a behaviour that the human actually performed but at a previous time. New technology that creates ‘avatars’, virtual models that look just like the self, allow for a wholly new human experience – seeing the ‘self’ perform an action that was never actually performed physically by the viewers. Can these ‘doppelgängers’ – virtual representations that may look like a person but act independently – cause psychological consequences in the physical world?