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Sense of agency: an interpersonally situated embodied approach

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posted on 2022-03-29, 01:08 authored by Catherine E. Deans
From button presses to loss of volition in depression, delusions of control in schizophrenia and anarchic hand syndrome, sense of agency has been related to a wide range of clinical and everyday phenomena. Does this concept-sense of agency-really have such a broad scope? In this thesis, I argue that it does. I suggest underlying commonalities and differences that need to be clarified if cross disciplinary discussions are to be fruitful. I also suggest ways of conceptualising implicit sense of agency and the relationship between reflective and pre-reflective forms, which are more closely aligned with clinical experiences of diminished sense of agency. Having established the broad scope of this complex construct, I suggest that whilst sense of agency research has proliferated in recent years-particularly in the fields of cognitive science, philosophy of mind and neuroscience-this fascinating work often neglects the interpersonal and emotional aspects of this concept. It is only recently that such aspects have begun to be included both empirically and theoretically. Focusing on the interpersonal and emotional aspects of sense of agency, I offer an account of its development in infancy, highlighting the interpersonal, embodied nature of intention formation and early experiences of contingency between actions and their effects. I explore the ramifications of this developmental account for adult experience of sense of agency, suggesting that the interpersonal and emotional aspects of the construct extend right down to the level of motor processes. I examine this way of approaching the concept in light of what it can reveal about diminished sense of agency in depression.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: General Introduction -- Chapter 2: Sense of agency: what sense can we make of it? A critical overview -- Chapter 3: The interpersonal development of an embodied sense of agency -- Chapter 4: Sense of agency: an interpersonally situated embodied approach -- Chapter 5: Diminished sense of agency in depressive experience: an embodied interpersonal approach -- Chapter 6: General discussion and conclusion.


Bibliography: pages 203-212 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Neil Levy


Copyright Catherine E. Deans 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




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