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The Sense of Agency$
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Patrick Haggard and Baruch Eitam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190267278

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190267278.001.0001

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The Innate Experience of Self-Agency

The Innate Experience of Self-Agency

(p.251) 11 The Innate Experience of Self-Agency
The Sense of Agency

Philippe Rochat

Oxford University Press

Research is presented showing that an implicit sense of self-agency is probably developing from birth, and possibly even before that. These time points are months before the child begins to manifest explicit (conceptual) self-knowledge, an event that is reported to occur typically in the second year. Implicit self-knowledge in infancy, including the sense of self-agency, is rooted in intermodal perception and action. This chapter proposes a particular role for embodied synesthesia involving proprioception—the modality of self-perception par excellence. From around 6 weeks postpartum, infants show signs of increasingly systematic and deliberate exploration of their own body, and in particular the perceptual consequences of self-produced actions. Infants have expectations regarding such consequences, getting much pleasure when they are met, experiencing displeasure and frustration when they are not. The pleasures of control associated with self-agency would form the affective core and driving motivational force behind mental development from the outset.

Keywords:   self-agency, self-knowledge, embodied synesthesia, proprioception, motivation, mental development

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