Sense of agency is modulated by interactions between action choice, outcome valence, and predictability

  • Takumi TanakaEmail author
  • Hideaki Kawabata


Sense of agency is a feeling of control over one’s actions to cause sensory events in one’s environment. While previous studies investigated the role of action choice and emotional valence of action outcome in forming implicit agency, the results were not consistent and the relationship between these factors remains unclear. We manipulated both action alternatives available and emotional valences of sounds (either positive or negative) as action outcomes and measured the resultant intentional binding effects in two experiments that differed in predictability of outcome valence. When participants could not predict the valence of action outcomes, they showed stronger sense of agency for negative outcomes determined by their free choice (Experiment 1). Conversely, when participants’ actions caused only outcomes with specific valence, this interaction was not observed (Experiment 2). These findings imply that the implicit processes of agency reflect an integrative context-dependent cognition of consequence of action choice, prior to explicit attribution judgments.


Sense of agency Intentional binding Action choice Emotional valence Action-outcome predictability 



This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI [grant no. JP16H01515]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analyses, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All experiments in this study were approved by the local ethical committee of the Keio University, Japan.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study with a written consent form.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Human RelationsKeio UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyKeio UniversityTokyoJapan

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