Vicarious Agency: Experiencing Control Over the Movements of Others

Abstract

Participants watched themselves in a mirror while another person behind them, hidden from view, extended hands forward on each side where participants’ hands would normally appear. The hands performed a series of movements. When participants could hear instructions previewing each movement, they reported an enhanced feeling of controlling the hands. Hearing instructions for the movements also enhanced skin conductance responses when a rubber band was snapped on the other’s wrist after the movements. Such vicarious agency was not felt when the instructions followed the movements, and participants’ own covert movement mimicry was not essential to the influence of previews on reported control.

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