Earlier Effects Are More Often Perceived as One’s Own Action Effects

in Timing & Time Perception
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When changes occur in our environment, we usually know whether we caused these changes by our actions or not. Yet, this feeling of authorship for changes — the so-called sense of agency (SoA) — depends on the temporal relationship between action and resulting change (i.e., effect). More precisely, SoA might depend on whether the effect occurs temporally predictable, and on the duration of the delay between action and effect. In previous studies, SoA was measured either explicitly, asking for the perceived control over external stimuli, or implicitly by measuring a characteristic temporal judgement bias (intentional binding, i.e., a shortening of the perceived interval between action and effect). We used a novel paradigm for investigating explicit SoA more directly by asking participants in a forced-choice paradigm whether they caused a temporally predictable or a temporally unpredictable effect by their action. Additionally, we investigated how the temporal contiguity of the effects influenced the participants’ explicit SoA. In two experiments (48 participants each), there was no influence of temporal predictability on explicit SoA. Temporally predictable and unpredictable effects were equally often rated as own effects. Yet, effects after shorter delays were more often perceived as own effects than effects after longer delays. These findings are in line with previous results concerning the influence of effect delay on other explicit measures of SoA and concluding that explicit SoA is stronger for early effects.

Earlier Effects Are More Often Perceived as One’s Own Action Effects

in Timing & Time Perception

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References

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Figures

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    Schematic trial procedure starting with a fixation cross (1000 ms) and a blank screen (1000 ms) which was followed by the appearance of the overboard passenger. After participants had responded to the imperative stimulus (i.e., passenger overboard) one effect (i.e., lifebuoy) was presented temporally predictably after 500 ms while the other effect was presented temporally unpredictably (but on average also after 500 ms). Thus, the two effects occurred either simultaneously (i.e., separated by a delay of 0 ms), the temporally unpredictable effect occurred 60 ms or 30 ms before the predictable effect (i.e., negative delay in comparison to the temporally predictable effect, −60 ms or −30 ms), or 30 ms or 60 ms after the predictable effect (i.e., positive delay in comparison to the temporally predictable effect, +30 ms or +60 ms). Assignment of color to the temporally predictable and unpredictable effects varied between blocks. The side of the predictable and unpredictable effect was randomized (see Sect. 2.1.3. Procedure). Participants had to judge block-wise (in block-wise response blocks, after 20 trials; depicted on the left side of the trial scheme) or trial-wise (in trial-wise response blocks; depicted on the right side of the trial scheme) which effect had been theirs by indicating the color of the respective effect (“Welcher Rettungsring war von Dir?”; i.e., “Which lifebuoy was yours?”; “1. Der Gelbe”; i.e., the yellow one; “2. Der Rote”; i.e., the red one). For better readability, the background in the figure is white and the text black, instead of a navy-blue background and white text as used in the experiment.

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    Boxplots of percentage (i.e., minimum, 25%, median, 75%, and maximum) of own effect (i.e., lifebuoy) rating for temporally predictable or early effects, separately for block-wise temporal predictability, trial-wise temporal predictability, and trial-wise temporal contiguity responses. The employed delay range of Experiment 1 was +/− 0 ms, 30 ms, or 60 ms (see Sect. 2.1. Method). Only the trial-wise contiguity measure resulted in a percentage that exceeded 50%, indicating that earlier effects were more often perceived as own effects.

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    Percentage of rating the temporally predictable effect as own effect for trial-wise responses depending on the delay between the unpredictable and the predictable effect. Values of −60 ms and −30 ms indicate that the unpredictable effect is presented before the predictable effect (that is, the predictable effect is the second effect), 0 ms indicates that both effects occur simultaneously, and 30 ms and 60 ms indicate that the predictable effect is presented before the unpredictable effect (this means the predictable effect is the first effect). Error bars represent standard errors.

  • View in gallery

    Boxplots of percentage (i.e., minimum, 25%, median, 75%, and maximum) of own effect (i.e., lifebuoy) rating for temporally predictable or early effects, separately for block-wise temporal predictability, trial-wise temporal predictability, and trial-wise temporal contiguity responses. The employed delay range of Experiment 2 was +/− 0 ms, 60 ms, or 120 ms (see Sect. 3.1. Method). Only the trial-wise contiguity measure resulted in a percentage that exceeded 50%, indicating that earlier effects were more often perceived as own effects.

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    Percentage of rating the temporally predictable effect as own effect for trial-wise responses depending on the delay between the unpredictable and the predictable effect. Values of −120 ms and −60 ms indicate that the unpredictable effect is presented before the predictable effect (that is, the predictable effect is the second effect), 0 ms indicates that both effects occur simultaneously, and 60 ms and 120 ms indicate that the predictable effect is presented before the unpredictable effect (this means the predictable effect is the first effect). Error bars represent standard errors.

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