3 Scopus citations


Controllability, or the influence one has over their surroundings, is crucial for decision-making and mental health. Traditionally, controllability is operationalized in sensorimotor terms as one's ability to exercise their actions to achieve an intended outcome (also termed “agency”). However, recent social neuroscience research suggests that humans also assess if and how they can exert influence over other people (i.e., their actions, outcomes, beliefs) to achieve desired outcomes ("social controllability”). In this review, we will synthesize empirical findings and neurocomputational frameworks related to social controllability. We first introduce the concepts of contextual and perceived controllability and their respective relevance for decision-making. Then, we outline neurocomputational frameworks that can be used to model social controllability, with a focus on behavioral economic paradigms and reinforcement learning approaches. Finally, we discuss the implications of social controllability for computational psychiatry research, using delusion and obsession-compulsion as examples. Taken together, we propose that social controllability could be a key area of investigation in future social neuroscience and computational psychiatry research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105139
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Cognitive map
  • Computational psychiatry
  • Model-based learning
  • Model-free learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Social controllability


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