Investigating the sense of agency and its relation to subclinical traits using a novel task

Tegan Penton*, Xingquan Wang, Caroline Catmur, Geoffrey Bird

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tasks measuring the sense of agency often manipulate the predictability of action outcomes by introducing spatial deviation. However, the extent to which spatial predictability of an outcome influences the sense of agency when spatial deviation is controlled for remains untested. We used a novel task to investigate the effect of several factors (action–outcome contingency, spatial deviation, and spatial predictability when controlling for spatial deviation of action outcomes) on the sense of agency. We also investigated trait predictors of metacognition of agency—the degree to which participants’ confidence in their agency judgements corresponds to the accuracy of those judgements. Initial and replication samples completed contingency, deviation, and predictability versions of the task. Across samples, participants’ sense of agency was impacted by action–outcome contingency and spatial deviation of action outcomes. Manipulation of the spatial predictability of action outcomes did not reliably impact the sense of agency. Metacognition of agency was related to alexithymic traits—higher alexithymia scores were associated with reduced metacognition of agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1399-1410
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number5
Early online date5 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Action–outcome contingency
  • Alexithymia
  • Individual differences
  • Metacognition of agency
  • Sense of agency


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