Sense of agency refers to the feeling that one's voluntary actions caused external events. Past studies have shown that compression of the subjective temporal interval between actions and external events, called intentional binding, is closely linked to the experience of agency. Current theories postulate that the experience of agency is constructed via predictive and postdictive pathways. One remaining problem is the source of human causality bias; people often make misjudgments on the causality of voluntary actions and external events depending on their rewarding or punishing outcomes. Although human causality bias implies that sense of agency can be modified by post-action information, convincing empirical findings for this issue are lacking. Here, we hypothesized that sense of agency would be modified by affective valences of action outcomes. To examine this issue, we investigated how rewarding and punishing outcomes following voluntary action modulate behavioral measures of agency using intentional binding paradigm and classical conditioning procedures. In the acquisition phase, auditory stimuli were paired with positive, neutral or negative monetary outcomes. Tone-reward associations were evaluated using reaction times and preference ratings. In the experimental session, participants performed a variant of intentional binding task, where participants made timing judgments for onsets of actions and sensory outcomes while playing simple slot games. Our results showed that temporal binding was modified by affective valences of action outcomes. Specifically, intentional binding was attenuated when negative outcome occurred, consistent with self-serving bias. Our study not only provides evidence for postdictive modification of agency, but also proposes a possible mechanism of human causality bias.
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