Send to

Choose Destination
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2009 May;96(5):967-79. doi: 10.1037/a0015000.

Priming and authorship ascription: when nonconscious goals turn into conscious experiences of self-agency.

Author information

Utrecht University, Department of Psychology, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The conscious experience of self-agency (i.e., the feeling that one causes one's own actions and their outcomes) is fundamental to human self-perception. Four experiments explored how experienced self-agency arises from a match between nonconsciously activated outcome representations and the subsequent production of the outcome and explored specifically how implicit motivation to produce the outcome may impinge on this process. Participants stopped a rapidly presented sequence of colors on a computer screen. Subsequently, they were presented with what could be the color on which they had stopped the sequence or a color that was randomly chosen by the computer. Agency ratings after each trial revealed that priming outcomes (a specific color) just before the outcome was produced enhanced experienced self-agency. Importantly, priming outcomes relatively far in advance also augmented self-agency, but only if the outcome was attached to positive affect and thus operating as a nonconscious goal maintaining the outcome representation active over time. As such, these studies show how the mechanisms underlying nonconscious goal pursuit promote experiences of self-agency, thus integrating 2 lines of research that so far have led separate lives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center