The Sense of Control and the Sense of Agency

PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 13:1 - 30 (2007)
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Abstract

The now growing literature on the content and sources of the phenomenology of first-person agency highlights the multi-faceted character of the phenomenology of agency and makes it clear that the experience of agency includes many other experiences as components. This paper examines the possible relations between these components of our experience of acting and the processes involved in action specification and action control. After a brief discussion of our awareness of our goals and means of action, it will focus on the sense of agency for a given action, understood as the sense the agent has that he or she is the author of that action. I argue that the sense of agency can be analyzed as a compound of more basic experiences, including the experience of intentional causation, the sense of initiation and the sense of control. I further argue that the sense of control may itself be analysed into a number of more specific, partially dissociable experiences.

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Elisabeth Pacherie
Institut Jean Nicod