Agency Attribution in Human-Computer Interaction

  • John E. McEneaney
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5639)


Social psychologists have documented that people attribute a human-like agency to computers. Work in human motor cognition has identified a related effect known as “intentional binding” that may help explain this phenomenon. Briefly, intentional binding refers to an unconscious attribution of agency to sufficiently complex entities in our environments that influences how we perceive and interact with those entities. Two studies are presented that examine whether intentional binding, an agency effect observed when people interact with physical objects, also applies in virtual environments typical of human-computer interaction (HCI). Results of the studies indicate that agency effects are observed in human-computer interaction but these effects differ from those reported in physical environments. Results of the studies suggest that human perception and action may operate differently in virtual environments than in physical interactions.


social interface theory intentional binding cognition perception agency attribution 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. McEneaney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Reading and Language ArtsOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

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