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Conscious Cogn. 2010 Mar;19(1):12-20. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2009.12.007. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Subjective agency and awareness of shared actions.

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  • 1Wilfrid Laurier University, Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, Ontario, Canada.


Voluntary actions and their distal effects are intimately related in conscious awareness. When an expected effect follows a voluntary action, the experience of the interval between these events is compressed in time, a phenomenon known as 'intentional binding' (IB). Current accounts of IB suggest that it serves to reinforce associations between our goals and our intention to attain these goals via action, and that IB only occurs for self-generated (i.e., intentional) actions. We used a novel approach to study IB in the context of shared intentions and actions. Pairs of participants judged the time of occurrence of actions and events attributed either to oneself or to another agent. We found that IB and subjective agency are not mutually predictive when an action can be attributed to only one of two 'co-intending' agents. Our results pose a complication for the prevailing view that IB and subjective agency reflect a common mechanism.

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