Things happen: Individuals with high obsessive-compulsive tendencies omit agency in their spoken language

Ela Oren, Naama Friedmann, Reuven Dar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The study examined the prediction that obsessive-compulsive tendencies are related to an attenuated sense of agency (SoA). As most explicit agency judgments are likely to reflect also motivation for and expectation of control, we examined agency in sentence production. Reduced agency can be expressed linguistically by omitting the agent or by using grammatical framings that detach the event from the entity that caused it. We examined the use of agentic language of participants with high vs. low scores on a measure of obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms, using structured linguistic tasks in which sentences are elicited in a conversation-like setting. As predicted, high OC individuals produced significantly more non-agentic sentences than low OC individuals, using various linguistic strategies. The results suggest that OC tendencies are related to attenuated SoA. We discuss the implications of these findings for explicating the SoA in OCD and the potential contribution of language analysis for understanding psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Volume42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agency
  • Agent
  • Language
  • OCD

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