When our thoughts are not our own: Investigating agency misattributions using the Mind-to-Mind paradigm

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (2):589-602 (2013)
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At the core of the sense of agency for self-produced action is the sense that I, and not some other agent, am producing and directing those actions. While there is an ever-expanding body of empirical research investigating the sense of agency for bodily action, there has, to date, been little empirical investigation of the sense of agency for thought. The present study uses the novel Mind-to-Mind paradigm, in which the agentive source of a target thought is ambiguous, to measure misattributions of agency. Seventy-two percent of participants made at least one misattribution of agency during a 5-min trial. Misattributions were significantly more frequent when the target thought was an arousing negative thought as compared to a neutral control. The findings establish a novel protocol for measuring the sense of agency for thought, and suggest that both contextual factors and emotional experience play a role in its generation



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