Priming the self as an agent influences causal, spatial, and temporal events: Implications for animacy, cultural differences, and clinical settings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

People intentionally engage in goal-directed actions—i.e., set goals, create plans, and execute volitional control, which are fundamental for our understanding of ourselves, others, and events. In three experiments we created a novel sentence unscrambling task that was used to prime the self-as-agent (i.e., sentences that contain the pronoun “I”), the self-as-patient (i.e., sentences that contain the pronoun “me”), or no prime (i.e., sentences that contain proper names only), and tested whether that priming would influence the interpretation of causal, spatial, and temporal events. Results demonstrated that the self-as-agent primed participants were more likely to attribute causal influence to a kayaker in a river (Study 1), to assign spatial directionality consistent with an agent moving through space (Study 2), and to assign temporal directionality consistent with an agent moving through time (Study 3). Taken together, these three studies demonstrate that situated conceptualizations of the self as an agent can be a springboard for relevant empirical and theoretical contributions to a broad range of ideas and approaches—from theories of agency to embodied cognition, from language systems to metaphoric representation frameworks, with some potentials even in the clinical and mental health field. Along these lines, implications for animacy, cultural differences, and clinical settings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • self-as-patient
  • self-as-agent

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