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Verschoor, Stephan A.; Hommel, Bernhard (2017): Self-By-Doing: The Role Of Action For Self-Acquisition. In: Social Cognition, Vol. 35, No. 2: pp. 127-145
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Abstract

The experience of the phenomenal, so-called "minimal self" is commonly taken as a given and as a core requirement for the performance of goal directed action. We discuss evidence suggesting the exact opposite scenario. In fact, evidence for truly goal-directed movements has been reported no earlier than around 9 months of age, and unequivocal signs of self-other distinction and action-ownership seem to emerge even later. This suggests that the self is not a given but that it emerges through active interaction with one's physical and social environment. Hence, the self is a result, rather than a precondition of intentional action. We discuss evidence that the self-construction process comprises of ideomotor learning, which builds up a database for intentional action selection, and predictive coding, which allows for action evaluation. We also speculate that rudimentary aspects of agency experience may precede the experience of action-ownership.