Agency (psychology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In psychology, agents are goal-directed entities that are able to monitor their environment to select and perform efficient means-ends actions that are available in a given situation to achieve an intended goal. Agency, therefore, implies the ability to perceive and to change the environment of the agent (similarly to an intelligent agent designed by humans), but crucially, it also entails intentionality[1] to represent the goal-state in the future, equifinal variability[2][3] to be able to achieve the intended goal-state with different actions in different contexts, and rationality of actions in relation to their goal[4][5] to produce the most efficient action available. Cognitive scientists and psychologists thoroughly investigated agency attribution in humans and non-human animals, since social cognitive mechanisms as communication, social learning, imitation or theory of mind presupposes the ability to identify agents and differentiate them from inanimate objects. This ability has also assumed to have a major effect on inferential and predictive processes of the observers of agents, because agentive entities are expected to perform autonomous behavior based on their current and previous knowledge and intentions, while inanimate objects are supposed to react to external physical forces.[6]

Although it is often confused, sensitivity to agency and the sense of agency are different concepts as the sensitivity to agency can be explained as a cognitive ability to identify agentive entities in the environment, while the sense of agency refers to the sense of control and sometimes to self-efficacy, which is a learnt belief of an individual about his or her own ability to succeed in specific situations.[7]

Theoretical approaches of agency[edit]

According to Carey and Spelke[8] the cognitive models explaining specific perceptual and representational abilities, for instance the models of agency recognition, can be separated into two different classes. The feature-based models of agency assume that the perceptual input of an observer consist of featural and behavioral cues that help to identify agents. Previous studies show that even very young human observers are sensitive to

  • self-propulsion[8],
  • non-rigid transformation of the object’s surface[9],
  • irregular path movement[10],
  • causation at a distance[6][10],
  • contingent turn-taking reactivity.[11][12][13][14]

However, neither of these cues are necessary and sufficient to identify an agent[4], since unfamiliar, novel entities like animated figures[15] or robots without human features[13] can elicit agency attribution in humans. Therefore, cognitive models belonging to the principle-based approaches[8] were designed to describe how humans perceive agency assuming that the detection of agency is not a precondition, but a consequence of inferential processes about potentially agentive objects.

The theory of teleological stance[16] proposes that from 12-month of age humans can apply the principle of rational action to determine, whether the observed entity is an agent or an inanimate object expecting that an agent behaves rationally in order to achieve its goal in a given situation. The theory assumes that the rationality principle makes observers able to relate the action, the represented goal-state and the current situational constraints to decide whether an object is an agent. For instance, if infants had learnt that an abstract, unfamiliar agent (an animated circle on a display) approaches another entity by jumping over an obstacle, when the obstacle had been removed, they expected a new, but highly rational behavior from the agent to approach the other entity via a straight pathway. In contrast, when infants were shown that the unfamiliar entity always made a detour when approaching its goal-object exhibiting non-justifiable behavior of jumping in the absence of an obstacle, they did not expect a rational of choice of behavior when the situational constraints changed.[4]

These results and later empirical studies[17][18][19][20] underpinned that agency recognition in humans can be explained by principle-based models rather than simple perceptual cues. As Gergely and Csibra concluded[16] from 12-month of age humans “can take the teleological stance to interpret actions as means to goals, can evaluate the relative efficiency of means by applying the principle of rational action, and can generate systematic inferences to identify relevant aspects of the situation to justify the action as an efficient means even when these aspects are not directly visible to them".

Types of agents[edit]

It was proposed[21] that the concept of agency involves different kinds of agents represented by independent cognitive systems in humans and perhaps in non-human species as well.[22] In humans, the species-specific social environment allows to identify agents either based on non-communicative observation of their rational, goal-directed actions or by relying on their communicative behavior which they exchange with other agents. In non-human species, however, none of these types of input information are necessary, since unfamiliar agents can be recognized simply on the basis of their perceptual abilities, which has context-dependent effect on their behavior even in the absence a visible goal-object that may be required to assess the efficiency of goal-approach.

Instrumental agency[edit]

According to Gergely[21] instrumental agents are intentional agents that exhibit actions in order to realize their goal states in the environment. The recognition of instrumental agents is investigated by numerous experiments in human infants[3][19][20][23][24], and also in non-human apes.[25][26][27]

Communicative agency[edit]

In contrast to instrumental agents, communicative agents[28] are intentional agents whose actions are performed to bring about a specific change in the mental representations of the addressee, for instance by providing new and relevant information. The recognition of communicative agency may allow for the observer to predict that communicative information transfer can have a relevant effect on the behavior of the agent, even if the interacting agents and their communicative signals are unfamiliar.[29]

Navigational agency[edit]

The construal of navigational agency is based on the assumption that Leslie’s theory[6] on agency implies two different types of distal sensitivity; distal sensitivity in space and distal sensitivity in time. While goal-directed instrumental agents need both of these abilities to represent a goal-state in the future and achieve it in a rational and efficient manner, navigational agents are supposed to have only perceptual abilities, that is a distal sensitivity in space to avoid collision with objects in their environments. A study[22] contrasting the ability of dogs and human infants to attribute agency to unfamiliar self-propelled object showed that dogs – unlike human infants – may lack the capability to recognize instrumental agents, however they can identify navigational agents.

Agency recognition in non-human animals[edit]

The ability to represent the efficiency of goal-directed actions of an instrumental agent may be a phylogenetically ancient core cognitive mechanism[30] that can be found in non-human primates as well. Previous research provided evidence for this assumption showing that this sensitivity affects the expectations of cotton-top tamarins, rhesus macaques, and chimpanzees.[25][26][27] Non-human apes are able to make inferences about the goal of an instrumental agent by taking the environmental constraints that can guide the agents’ actions into account. Moreover, it seems that non-human species like dogs can recognize contingent reactivity as an abstract of cue of agency, and respond to contingent agent significantly different in contrast to inanimate objects.[31][32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dennett, Daniel (1987). The intentional stance. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262040938. OCLC 15793656.
  2. ^ Fritz., Heider (2015). The psychology of interpersonal relations. Mansfield: Martino Publ. ISBN 9781614277958. OCLC 1033711840.
  3. ^ a b Csibra, Gergely (2008). "Goal attribution to inanimate agents by 6.5-month-old infants". Cognition. 107 (2): 705–717. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2007.08.001. ISSN 0010-0277. PMID 17869235.
  4. ^ a b c Gergely, György; Nádasdy, Zoltán; Csibra, Gergely; Bíró, Szilvia (1995). "Taking the intentional stance at 12 months of age". Cognition. 56 (2): 165–193. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(95)00661-h. ISSN 0010-0277.
  5. ^ Luo, Y.; Baillargeon, R. (2005). "Can a Self-Propelled Box Have a Goal?: Psychological Reasoning in 5-Month-Old Infants". Psychological Science. 16 (8): 601–608. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01582.x. PMC 3351378. PMID 16102062.
  6. ^ a b c Leslie, Alan M. (1994), "ToMM, ToBY, and Agency: Core architecture and domain specificity", Mapping the mind, Cambridge University Press, pp. 119–148, doi:10.1017/cbo9780511752902.006, ISBN 9780511752902
  7. ^ Bandura, Albert (1982). "Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency". American Psychologist. 37 (2): 122–147. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.37.2.122. ISSN 0003-066X.
  8. ^ a b c Carey, Susan; Spelke, Elizabeth (1994), "Domain-specific knowledge and conceptual change", Mapping the mind, Cambridge University Press, pp. 169–200, doi:10.1017/cbo9780511752902.008, ISBN 9780511752902
  9. ^ Gibson, Eleanor J.; Owsley, Cynthia J.; Johnston, Joan (1978). "Perception of invariants by five-month-old infants: Differentiation of two types of motion". Developmental Psychology. 14 (4): 407–415. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.14.4.407. ISSN 0012-1649.
  10. ^ a b Mandler, Jean M. (1992). "How to build a baby: II. Conceptual primitives". Psychological Review. 99 (4): 587–604. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.460.5280. doi:10.1037//0033-295x.99.4.587. ISSN 0033-295X. PMID 1454900.
  11. ^ Trevarthen, C. (1977). Descriptive analyses of infant communicative behavior. London: Academic Press.
  12. ^ Watson, John S. (1972). "SMILING, COOING, AND "THE GAME"". Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development. 18 (4): 323–339. JSTOR 23084026.
  13. ^ a b Movellan, J.R.; Watson, J.S. (2002). The development of gaze following as a Bayesian systems identification problem. Proceedings 2nd International Conference on Development and Learning. ICDL 2002. IEEE Comput. Soc. pp. 34–40. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.2.1627. doi:10.1109/devlrn.2002.1011728. ISBN 978-0769514598.
  14. ^ Deligianni, Fani; Senju, Atsushi; Gergely, György; Csibra, Gergely (2011). "Automated gaze-contingent objects elicit orientation following in 8-month-old infants". Developmental Psychology. 47 (6): 1499–1503. doi:10.1037/a0025659. ISSN 1939-0599. PMC 4636044. PMID 21942669.
  15. ^ Tauzin, Tibor; Gergely, György (2018-06-22). "Communicative mind-reading in preverbal infants". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 9534. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-27804-4. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 6015048. PMID 29934630.
  16. ^ a b Gergely, György; Csibra, Gergely (2003). "Teleological reasoning in infancy: the naı̈ve theory of rational action". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 7 (7): 287–292. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.331.5767. doi:10.1016/s1364-6613(03)00128-1. ISSN 1364-6613. PMID 12860186.
  17. ^ Biro, Szilvia; Csibra, Gergely; Gergely, György (2007), "The role of behavioral cues in understanding goal-directed actions in infancy", Progress in Brain Research, Elsevier, 164: 303–322, doi:10.1016/s0079-6123(07)64017-5, ISBN 9780444530165, PMID 17920439
  18. ^ Csibra, Gergely (2008). "Goal attribution to inanimate agents by 6.5-month-old infants". Cognition. 107 (2): 705–717. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2007.08.001. ISSN 0010-0277. PMID 17869235.
  19. ^ a b Luo, Yuyan (2010-09-06). "Three-month-old infants attribute goals to a non-human agent". Developmental Science. 14 (2): 453–460. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00995.x. ISSN 1363-755X.
  20. ^ a b Wagner, Laura; Carey, Susan (2005-01-01). "12-Month-Old Infants Represent Probable Endings of Motion Events". Infancy. 7 (1): 73–83. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.140.2588. doi:10.1207/s15327078in0701_6. ISSN 1525-0008.
  21. ^ a b Gergely, György (2010-07-15), "Kinds of Agents: The Origins of Understanding Instrumental and Communicative Agency", The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 76–105, doi:10.1002/9781444325485.ch3, ISBN 9781444325485
  22. ^ a b Tauzin, Tibor; Csík, Andor; Lovas, Kata; Gergely, György; Topál, József (2017). "The attribution of navigational- and goal-directed agency in dogs (Canis familiaris) and human toddlers (Homo sapiens)" (PDF). Journal of Comparative Psychology. 131 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1037/com0000053. ISSN 1939-2087. PMID 28182482.
  23. ^ Biro, Szilvia; Csibra, Gergely; Gergely, György (2007), "The role of behavioral cues in understanding goal-directed actions in infancy", Progress in Brain Research, Elsevier, 164: 303–322, doi:10.1016/s0079-6123(07)64017-5, ISBN 9780444530165, PMID 17920439
  24. ^ Csibra, Gergely; Bíró, Szilvia; Koós, Orsolya; Gergely, György (2003). "One-year-old infants use teleological representations of actions productively". Cognitive Science. 27 (1): 111–133. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog2701_4. ISSN 0364-0213.
  25. ^ a b Rochat, Magali J.; Serra, Elisabetta; Fadiga, Luciano; Gallese, Vittorio (2008). "The Evolution of Social Cognition: Goal Familiarity Shapes Monkeys' Action Understanding". Current Biology. 18 (3): 227–232. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.12.021. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 18221878.
  26. ^ a b Uller, Claudia (2003-12-18). "Disposition to recognize goals in infant chimpanzees". Animal Cognition. 7 (3): 154–61. doi:10.1007/s10071-003-0204-9. ISSN 1435-9448. PMID 14685823.
  27. ^ a b Wood, Justin N.; Glynn, David D.; Phillips, Brenda C.; Hauser, Marc D. (2007-09-07). "The Perception of Rational, Goal-Directed Action in Nonhuman Primates". Science. 317 (5843): 1402–1405. doi:10.1126/science.1144663. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17823353.
  28. ^ Gergely, György; Jacob, Pierre (2012), "Reasoning about Instrumental and Communicative Agency in Human Infancy" (PDF), Rational Constructivism in Cognitive Development, Elsevier, pp. 59–94, doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-397919-3.00003-4, ISBN 9780123979193
  29. ^ Tauzin, Tibor; Gergely, György (2018-06-22). "Communicative mind-reading in preverbal infants". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 9534. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-27804-4. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 6015048. PMID 29934630.
  30. ^ Susan., Carey (2009). The origin of concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195367638. OCLC 233697385.
  31. ^ Tauzin, Tibor; Kovács, Krisztina; Topál, József (2016-07-19). "Dogs Identify Agents in Third-Party Interactions on the Basis of the Observed Degree of Contingency" (PDF). Psychological Science. 27 (8): 1061–1068. doi:10.1177/0956797616647518. ISSN 0956-7976. PMID 27268590.
  32. ^ Gergely, Anna; Petró, Eszter; Topál, József; Miklósi, Ádám (2013-08-28). "What Are You or Who Are You? The Emergence of Social Interaction between Dog and an Unidentified Moving Object (UMO)". PLoS ONE. 8 (8): e72727. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072727. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3755977. PMID 24015272.