Self-denial and the role of intentions in the attribution of agency

Catherine Preston, Roger Newport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to distinguish between our own actions and those of an external agent is a fundamental component of normal human social interaction. Both low- and high-level mechanisms are thought to contribute to the sense of movement agency, but the contribution of each is yet to be fully understood. By applying small and incremental perturbations to realistic visual feedback of the limb, the influence of high-level action intentions and low-level motor predictive mechanisms were dissociated in two experiments. In the first, participants were induced to claim agency over movements that were subject to large perturbations and to deny agency over self-produced unperturbed movements despite the application of motor corrections by low-level mechanisms. A control experiment confirmed that if reaches met with their intended goal then they were more likely to be attributed to the agent, regardless of the discrepancy between the actual and seen positions of the limb.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-998
Number of pages13
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Issue number4
Early online date10 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Denial (Psychology)
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Internal-External Control
  • Kinesthesis
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Proprioception
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Software
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Young Adult

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