Feelings of control: Contingency determines experience of action

Document Type: 
Article
Article Type: 
Experimental
Disciplines: 
Psychology
Topics: 
Cognition
Keywords: 
Volition, Contingency, Consciousness, Causality, Sense of agency, Sense of control
Deposited by: 
Dr James Moore on 12 January 2009
Date of Issue: 
2008
Authors: 
James W. Moore, David Lagnado, Darvany C. Deal, Patrick Haggard
Journal/Publication Title: 
Cognition
Official URL: 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2008.11.006
Abstract: 
The experience of causation is a pervasive product of the human mind. Moreover, the experience of causing an event alters subjective time: actions are perceived as temporally shifted towards their effects (Haggard, Clark, & Kalogeras, 2002). This temporal shift depends partly on advance prediction of the effects of action, and partly on inferential "postdictive" explanations of sensory effects of action. We investigated whether a single factor of statistical contingency could explain both these aspects of causal experience. We studied the time at which people perceived a simple manual action to occur, when statistical contingency indicated a causal relation between action and effect, and when no such relation was indicated. Both predictive and inferential “postdictive” shifts in the time of action depended on strong contingency between action and effect. The experience of agency involves a process of causal learning based on statistical contingency.
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