Grant success

Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant — Experiencing myself through you: Self-agency in social interaction

With Rama Chakravarthi (, the aim is to gather pilot data for a more extensive project on how we experience our own and others’ agency in social interaction with others and various digital means of communication. The current project’s summary: “This project will systematically investigate self-agency in social interaction. The sense of agency refers to the feeling of ownership of an action and its consequences, and hence is central to everyday life. Surprisingly, most studies on agency have utilised simple actions like button presses leading to a tone, whereas in everyday life most of our actions are interactions with others, wherein, just as we decide to act from our own volition, they decide to react from their own volition. This project seeks to address this lacuna by looking at what difference it makes to our sense of agency to be in a situation where the effect of my action is the other person’s action. In two distinct paradigms across two communicative modalities (hand movements and gaze), people have to make a decision (push a joystick in one direction, or look at one of two objects), and they are told that another person, and sometimes an algorithm, reacts to them, which they see through video. In reality the other person is a confederate and the filmed reactions are carefully timed and manipulated to look more or less social. We then measure in various ways the degree to which people experience self-agency. We expect there to be differences between social and non-social conditions in how objective causality of people’s actions relates to their subjective sense of agency. We thus hope to lay the groundwork for future research into how perceptions of self- and other-agency are intertwined in our daily lives.“ — Carnegie Trust RIG008270