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Persistence of repeated self-reported illusion of control as a product of action and outcome association in productive and preventive scenarios

  • Reinaldo Augusto Gomes SimõesEmail author
  • Marcelo Frota Lobato Benvenuti
  • Aline de Souza Rodrigues
  • Stela Pereira Coutinho
  • Miguel Ángel Muñoz
  • Lisiane Bizarro
Original Article

Abstract

Individuals interpret themselves as causal agents when executing an action to achieve an outcome, even when action and outcome are independent. How can illusion of control be managed? Once established, does it decay? This study aimed to analyze the effects of valence, probability of the outcome [p(O)] and probability of the actions performed by the participant [p(A)], on the magnitude of judgments of control and corresponding associative measures (including Rescorla–Wagner’s, Probabilistic Contrast, and Cheng’s Power Probabilistic Contrast models). A traffic light was presented on a computer screen to 81 participants who tried to control the green or red lights by pressing the spacebar, after instructions describing a productive or a preventive scenario. There were 4 blocks of 50 trials under all of 4 different p(O)s in random order (0.10, 0.30, 0.70, and 0.90). Judgments were assessed in a bidimensional scale. The 2 × 4 × 4 mixed experimental design was analyzed through General Linear Models, including factor group (between-subject valence), and block and p(O) (within subjects). There was a small effect of group and a large and direct effect of p(O) on judgments. Illusion was reported by 66% of the sample and was positive in the productive group. The oscillation of p(O) produced stronger illusions; decreasing p(O)s produced nil or negative illusions. Only Rescorla–Wagner’s could model causality properly. The reasons why p(A) and the other models could not generate significant results are discussed. The results help to comprehend the importance of keeping moderate illusions in productive and preventive scenarios.

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This study was financed by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001, grant number 1,364,428. The content is associated with and the published results are part of the doctoral thesis of the first author, Behavioral and psychophysiological measures on illusion of control in productive and preventive scenarios and in the context of safety risks in Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psicologia of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and in Programa de Doctorado em Psicología de Universidad de Granada. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The study has been approved by the UFRGS Instituto de Psicologia Research Ethics Committee and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Any original materials used to conduct the research (including all primary data) will be made available to the journal and other researchers for purposes of replicating the procedure or reproducing the results; they can be obtained from the first author upon reasonable request (via email to: reinaldoags@gmail.com). The authors would like to thank Fernando Blanco and Helena Matute, who kindly provided the original E-Prime light bulb task script to be adapted for the current experiment; and Adriane Ribeiro Teixeira and Pricila Sleifer, from Laboratório de Audiologia do Curso de Fonoaudiologia da UFRGS, where data were collected.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinaldo Augusto Gomes Simões
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Marcelo Frota Lobato Benvenuti
    • 2
    • 3
  • Aline de Souza Rodrigues
    • 1
  • Stela Pereira Coutinho
    • 1
  • Miguel Ángel Muñoz
    • 4
  • Lisiane Bizarro
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Instituto de PsicologiaPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto de PsicologiaSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e EnsinoSão CarlosBrazil
  4. 4.Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center-CIMCYC, Universidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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