The sense of agency and its role in strategic control for expert mountain bikers

Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 2 (3):340-353 (2015)
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Abstract

Much work on the sense of agency has focused either on abnormal cases, such as delusions of control, or on simple action tasks in the laboratory. Few studies address the nature of the sense of agency in complex natural settings, or the effect of skill on the sense of agency. Working from 2 case studies of mountain bike riding, we argue that the sense of agency in high-skill individuals incorporates awareness of multiple causal influences on action outcomes. This allows fine-grained differentiation of the contributions of self and external factors to action outcomes. We further argue that the sense of agency incorporates prospective awareness of actions that are possible in a situation and awareness of the limits of control. These forms of sense of agency enable highly flexible, context-sensitive strategic control, and are likely to contribute to high interindividual variability in responses to complex tasks.

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