Three experiments examined whether the mere priming of potential action effects enhances people’s feeling of causing these effects when they occur. In a computer task, participants and the computer independently moved a rapidly moving square on a display. Participants had to press a key, thereby stopping the movement. However, the participant or the computer could have caused the square to stop on the observed position, and accordingly, the stopped position of the square could be conceived of as the potential effect (...) resulting from participants’ action of pressing the stop key. The location of this position was primed or not just before participants had to stop the movement. Results showed that priming of the position enhanced experienced authorship of stopping the square. Additional experimentation demonstrated that this priming of agency was not mediated by the goal or intention to produce the effect. (shrink)
The conscious awareness of voluntary action is associated with systematic changes in time perception: The interval between actions and outcomes is experienced as compressed in time. Although this temporal binding is thought to result from voluntary movement and provides a window to the sense of agency, recent studies challenge this idea by demonstrating binding in involuntary movement. We offer a potential account for these findings by proposing that binding between involuntary actions and effects can occur when self-causation is implied. Participants (...) made temporal judgements concerning a key press and a tone, while they learned to consider themselves as the cause of the effect or not. Results showed that implied self-causation increased temporal binding. Since intrinsic motor cues of movement were absent, these results suggest that sensory evidence about the key press caused binding in retrospect and in line with the participant’s sense of being an agent. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that storing predictive relations between two events in memory as bi-directional associations does not require conscious awareness of this relation, whereas the formation of unidirectional associations that capture the direction of the relation does. This study reports a set of experiments demonstrating that unidirectional associations can be formed even when awareness of the relation is actively prevented, if attention is “tuned” to process predictive relations. When participants engaged in predicting targets based on cues in an unrelated (...) task before the actual acquisition phase, unidirectional associations were formed during this acquisition phase even though E1 was presented subliminally. This suggests that although processing the relation between events may often be accompanied by awareness of this relation, awareness is not a prerequisite for the formation of unidirectional associations. (shrink)
Custers and Aarts demonstrated that whether predictive relations between two events are stored in memory as unidirectional or bi-directional structures does not depend on awareness, but on attention. Here, the role of attention and top-down processes in producing these effects are investigated more closely.