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Coercion Changes the Sense of Agency in the Human Brain

Overview of attention for article published in Current Biology, March 2016
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (96th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
57 news outlets
blogs
13 blogs
twitter
169 tweeters
facebook
12 Facebook pages
googleplus
11 Google+ users
reddit
5 Redditors

Citations

dimensions_citation
81 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
322 Mendeley
citeulike
3 CiteULike
Title
Coercion Changes the Sense of Agency in the Human Brain
Published in
Current Biology, March 2016
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2015.12.067
Pubmed ID
Authors

Emilie A. Caspar, Julia F. Christensen, Axel Cleeremans, Patrick Haggard

Abstract

People may deny responsibility for negative consequences of their actions by claiming that they were "only obeying orders." The "Nuremberg defense" offers one extreme example, though it is often dismissed as merely an attempt to avoid responsibility. Milgram's classic laboratory studies reported widespread obedience to an instruction to harm, suggesting that social coercion may alter mechanisms of voluntary agency, and hence abolish the normal experience of being in control of one's own actions. However, Milgram's and other studies relied on dissembling and on explicit measures of agency, which are known to be biased by social norms. Here, we combined coercive instructions to administer harm to a co-participant, with implicit measures of sense of agency, based on perceived compression of time intervals between voluntary actions and their outcomes, and with electrophysiological recordings. In two experiments, an experimenter ordered a volunteer to make a key-press action that caused either financial penalty or demonstrably painful electric shock to their co-participant, thereby increasing their own financial gain. Coercion increased the perceived interval between action and outcome, relative to a situation where participants freely chose to inflict the same harms. Interestingly, coercion also reduced the neural processing of the outcomes of one's own action. Thus, people who obey orders may subjectively experience their actions as closer to passive movements than fully voluntary actions. Our results highlight the complex relation between the brain mechanisms that generate the subjective experience of voluntary actions and social constructs, such as responsibility.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 169 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 322 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Germany 4 1%
United States 3 <1%
Spain 3 <1%
Japan 3 <1%
France 3 <1%
Brazil 2 <1%
Canada 1 <1%
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Belgium 1 <1%
Other 7 2%
Unknown 294 91%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 71 22%
Researcher 50 16%
Student > Master 42 13%
Student > Bachelor 37 11%
Professor 23 7%
Other 68 21%
Unknown 31 10%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 148 46%
Neuroscience 30 9%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 23 7%
Social Sciences 12 4%
Business, Management and Accounting 9 3%
Other 51 16%
Unknown 49 15%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 668. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 19 November 2020.
All research outputs
#15,757
of 17,138,809 outputs
Outputs from Current Biology
#152
of 11,738 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#351
of 270,268 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Current Biology
#7
of 195 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 17,138,809 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,738 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 47.0. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 270,268 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 195 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 96% of its contemporaries.