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Temporal Binding, Causation, and Agency: Developing a New Theoretical Framework

Hoerl, C; Lorimer, S; McCormack, T; Lagnado, DA; Blakey, E; Tecwyn, EC; Buehner, MJ; (2020) Temporal Binding, Causation, and Agency: Developing a New Theoretical Framework. Cognitive Science , 44 (5) , Article e12843. 10.1111/cogs.12843. Green open access

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Abstract

In temporal binding, the temporal interval between one event and another, occurring some time later, is subjectively compressed. We discuss two ways in which temporal binding has been conceptualized. In studies showing temporal binding between a voluntary action and its causal consequences, such binding is typically interpreted as providing a measure of an implicit or pre-reflective "sense of agency." However, temporal binding has also been observed in contexts not involving voluntary action, but only the passive observation of a cause-effect sequence. In those contexts, it has been interpreted as a top-down effect on perception reflecting a belief in causality. These two views need not be in conflict with one another, if one thinks of them as concerning two separate mechanisms through which temporal binding can occur. In this paper, we explore an alternative possibility: that there is a unitary way of explaining temporal binding both within and outside the context of voluntary action as a top-down effect on perception reflecting a belief in causality. Any such explanation needs to account for ways in which agency, and factors connected with agency, has been shown to affect the strength of temporal binding. We show that principles of causal inference and causal selection already familiar from the literature on causal learning have the potential to explain why the strength of people's causal beliefs can be affected by the extent to which they are themselves actively involved in bringing about events, thus in turn affecting binding.

Type: Article
Title: Temporal Binding, Causation, and Agency: Developing a New Theoretical Framework
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12843
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12843
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Keywords: Agency attribution, Causal inference, Causality, Intentional binding, Sense of agency, Temporal binding, Voluntary action
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100240
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