What am I doing? It depends: agency and action identification

Cory A. Potts, Richard A. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Actions can be identified at a range of levels, from higher level, outcome-related descriptions to lower level, movement-related descriptions. But how do these levels of identification influence the experience of control (agency) over a task? We addressed the relation between the level of action identification and agency using a hierarchical task modeled from typing. Participants memorized letter sequences and reported them by moving a cursor to targets that contained letters. To manipulate lower level (aiming) difficulty, the targets were either large or small. To manipulate higher level (memory) difficulty, the letter sequences were either constant or random within a block. We found effects of higher and lower level difficulty on agency and action identification. Moreover, we found interactive effects of higher and lower level difficulty on performance. We discuss these findings in terms of contributions to the study of agency, and some differences from the results of previous studies of action identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-666
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'What am I doing? It depends: agency and action identification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this