Abnormal agency experiences in schizophrenia patients: Examining the role of psychotic symptoms and familial risk

Merel Prikken, Anouk van der Weiden, Robert A. Renes, Godefridus J.C. Koevoets, Henriette D. Heering, René S. Kahn, Henk Aarts, Neeltje E.M. van Haren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Experiencing self-agency over one's own action outcomes is essential for social functioning. Recent research revealed that patients with schizophrenia do not use implicitly available information about their action-outcomes (i.e., prime-based agency inference) to arrive at self-agency experiences. Here, we examined whether this is related to symptoms and/or familial risk to develop the disease. Fifty-four patients, 54 controls, and 19 unaffected (and unrelated) siblings performed an agency inference task, in which experienced agency was measured over action-outcomes that matched or mismatched outcome-primes that were presented before action performance. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and Comprehensive Assessment of Symptoms and History (CASH) were administered to assess psychopathology. Impairments in prime-based inferences did not differ between patients with symptoms of over- and underattribution. However, patients with agency underattribution symptoms reported significantly lower overall self-agency experiences. Siblings displayed stronger prime-based agency inferences than patients, but weaker prime-based inferences than healthy controls. However, these differences were not statistically significant. Findings suggest that impairments in prime-based agency inferences may be a trait characteristic of schizophrenia. Moreover, this study may stimulate further research on the familial basis and the clinical relevance of impairments in implicit agency inferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-276
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • High-risk
  • Positive symptoms
  • Psychosis
  • Self-agency
  • Social cognition


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