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The illusion of (un)conscious will: Can explicit feelings of control affect low-level sense of agency?

Yehuda, Michael Ben (2014) The illusion of (un)conscious will: Can explicit feelings of control affect low-level sense of agency? University of West London. (Unpublished)


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Intentional binding is the perceived compression of the time interval separating an action from its effect (Action-Effect Interval (AEI)) when a sense of agency (SoA) over an event is experienced. It is positively correlated with explicit judgements of agency, although whether the relation is causal remains unclear, and is argued to occur only with intentional actions. The present study tested whether explicit knowledge of control over an effect modulates time estimates of the AEI (H1), and whether binding can occur for actions with reduced intentionality (e.g., speeded reactions) if external cues suggesting self-agency are present (H2). 19 participants completed a speeded reaction task in which they responded to arrows on a screen by making key-presses corresponding to the arrow’s direction, after having been explicitly primed to feel either in control or not over an effect that was either compatible or incompatible with their press. H1 was rejected, as no significant difference between the time estimates made in the two control-priming conditions was found, F(1, 17) = .03, ns. The null hypothesis was partially rejected for H2, as a marginally significant effect of action-outcome compatibility was found, with higher estimates in incompatible than compatible trials, F(1, 17) = 3.27, p = .088. The results are discussed in terms of the way internal and external cues are integrated in the computation of SoA.

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