ZiF Research Group
Cognitive Behavior of Humans, Animals, and Machines:
Situation Model Perspectives
October 2019 – July 2020
Convenors: Werner Schneider (Bielefeld, GER), Helge Ritter (Bielefeld, GER)
Katharina Schwarz studied biology at the University of Würzburg with a minor in biological psychology from 2004 to 2010. As a G.A. Lienert fellow, she visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA, for a research project in developmental neuroscience in 2010 and then conducted her PhD studies at the Institute of Systems Neuroscience at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf on the influence of expectations on cognitive processes until 2015. Since then, she has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Psychology at the University of Würzburg where she heads her own, DFG-funded research project on the sense of agency.
Current Main Research Interests
The sense of agency represents the feeling of control over our own actions and, through these actions, over our environment. It is a cornerstone of causally attributing events to oneself or to other agents, and it is a crucial prerequisite for feelings of responsibility as well as for regret for undesired action outcomes.
My work focuses on the question of how this sense of agency is established. Contributing factors include mechanisms of causality detection and human action control, interactions of perception and action, as well as cognitive reasoning processes. Situational aspects are likely to determine the weight each of these contributions carries in the establishment of a sense of agency, and it is my goal to identify and characterize these situational aspects and their individual influence on the sense of agency.
Five selected publications with particular relevance to the Research Group
- Schwarz, K. A., Burger, S., Dignath, D., Kunde, W., & Pfister, R. (2018). Action-effect binding and agency. Consciousness and Cognition, 65, 304-309.
- Schwarz, K. A., Pfister, R., Kluge, M., Weller, L., & Kunde, W. (2018). Do we see it or not? Sensory attenuation in the visual domain. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147, 418-430.
- Weller, L., Schwarz, K. A., Kunde, W., & Pfister, R. (2018). My mistake? Enhanced error processing for commanded compared to passively observed actions. Psychophysiology, 55, e13057.
- Weller, L., Schwarz, K. A., Kunde, W., & Pfister, R. (2017). Was it me? — Filling the interval between action and effects increases agency but not sensory attenuation. Biological Psychology, 123, 241-249.
- Schwarz, K. A., Pfister, R., & Büchel, C. (2016). Rethinking explicit expectations: Connecting placebos, social cognition, and contextual perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 469-480.