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Coercion Changes the Sense of Agency in the Human Brain

Overview of attention for article published in Current Biology, February 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 (98th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
56 news outlets
blogs
11 blogs
twitter
141 tweeters
facebook
11 Facebook pages
googleplus
11 Google+ users
reddit
5 Redditors

Readers on

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

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

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 141 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 174 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Germany 5 3%
France 4 2%
Japan 4 2%
United States 4 2%
Spain 3 2%
Poland 2 1%
Brazil 2 1%
China 2 1%
United Kingdom 2 1%
Other 8 5%
Unknown 138 79%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 48 28%
Researcher 36 21%
Student > Master 23 13%
Student > Doctoral Student 15 9%
Professor 14 8%
Other 38 22%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 93 53%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 20 11%
Unspecified 15 9%
Computer Science 9 5%
Neuroscience 7 4%
Other 30 17%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 626. 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 25 July 2017.
All research outputs
#5,185
of 8,386,447 outputs
Outputs from Current Biology
#60
of 7,016 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#400
of 290,329 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Current Biology
#4
of 212 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 8,386,447 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 7,016 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 35.4. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% 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 290,329 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 212 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 98% of its contemporaries.