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Journal Articles Cognition Year : 2020

Agents' pivotality and reward fairness modulate sense of agency in cooperative joint action

Alexandre Devaux
Tena Nevidal
  • Function : Author
Valerian Chambon
Elisabeth Pacherie


The sense of agency (SoA) experienced in joint action is an essential subjective dimension of human cooperativeness, but we still know little about the specific factors that contribute to its emergence or alteration. In the present study, dyads of participants were instructed to coordinate their key presses to move a cursor up to a specific target (i.e., to achieve a common goal). We applied random deviations on the cursor's trajectory to manipulate the motor fluency of the joint action, while the agents' motor roles were either balanced (i.e., equivalent) or unbalanced (i.e., one agent contributed more than the other), making the agents more or less pivotal to the joint action. Then, the final outcomes were shared equally, fairly (i.e., reflecting individual motor contributions) or arbitrarily in an all-or-none fashion, between the co-agents. Self and joint SoA were measured through self-reports about feeling of control, that is, using judgment of (felt) control (JoC), and electrodermal activity was recorded during the whole motor task. We observed that self and joint JoC were reduced in the case of low motor fluency, pointing out the importance of sensorimotor cues for both I-and we-modes. Moreover, while self JoC was reduced in the low pivotality condition (i.e., low motor role), joint JoC was significantly enhanced when agents' roles and rewards were symmetrical (i.e. equal). Skin conductance responses to rewards were impacted by the way outcomes were shared between partners (i.e., fairly, equally or arbitrarily) but not by the individual gains, which demonstrates the sensitivity of low-level physiological reactions to external signs of fairness. Skin conductance level was also reduced in the fair context, where rewards were shared according to individual motor contributions, relative to the all-or-none context, which could mirror the feeling of effective responsibility and control over actions' outcomes.
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hal-03052125 , version 1 (10-12-2020)



Solène Le Bars, Alexandre Devaux, Tena Nevidal, Valerian Chambon, Elisabeth Pacherie. Agents' pivotality and reward fairness modulate sense of agency in cooperative joint action. Cognition, 2020, 195, pp.104117. ⟨10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104117⟩. ⟨hal-03052125⟩
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