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Conscious Cogn. 2005 Sep;14(3):439-58. Epub 2004 Dec 15.

On the inference of personal authorship: enhancing experienced agency by priming effect information.

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  • 1Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80140, 3508 TC, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


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 (subliminal as well as supraliminal) 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.

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