In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, structure are those factors of influence (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, customs, etc.) that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions. The relative difference in influences from structure and agency is debated – it's unclear to what extent a person's actions are constrained by social systems.
One's agency is one's independent capability or ability to act on one's will. This ability is affected by the cognitive belief structure which one has formed through one's experiences, and the perceptions held by the society and the individual, of the structures and circumstances of the environment one is in and the position they are born into. Disagreement on the extent of one's agency often causes conflict between parties, e.g. parents and children.
Feelings of agency 
Thinkers have only just begun to empirically explore the factors that cause a person to feel as though they are in control - particularly, in control of a physical action. Social psychologist Daniel Wegner discusses how an "illusion of control" may cause people to take credit for events that they did not cause. These false judgements of agency (JOP) occur especially under stress, or when the results of the event were ones that the individual desired (also see self serving biases). Janet Metcalfe and her colleagues have identified other possible heuristics, or rules of thumb, that people use to make JOP's. These include a "forward model" in which the mind actually compares two signals to judge agency: the feedback from a movement, but also an "efferent copy" - a mental prediction of what that movement feedback should feel like. Top down processing (understanding of a situation, and other possible explanations) can also influence JOPs. Furthermore, the relative importance of one heuristic over another seems to change with age.
From an evolutionary perspective, the illusion of agency would be beneficial in allowing social animals to predict the actions of others.  If one considers him or herself a conscious agent, then the quality of agency would naturally be intuited upon others. As it is possible to deduce another's intentions, the assumption of agency allows one to extrapolate from those intentions what actions someone else is likely to perform.
See also 
- Action theory
- Agency (philosophy)
- Negative capability
- Social action
- Social relation
- Structure and agency
- Theory of structuration
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