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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education


The Psychology of Agency and Control

ISBN 9781137022264
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Paperback Hardcover Ebook 
Publisher Palgrave

Focusing on processes including decision-making and memory, this book provides fascinating insight into phenomena such as coincidences and the illusion of control to consider how agency and control help us to think about the future. It is essential reading for students of conceptual and historical issues, consciousness and decision-making.

Magda Osman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London, UK. Her research interests include causal reasoning, problem-solving, learning and vision, and she is currently Associate Editor for Experimental Psychology, and consults on several national and international research councils.

1. Agency and Control: Psychological Tools for Making the Future
2. Agency: Claiming Future Events as Our Own
3. Control: Achieving and Maintaining a Desirable Future
4. Causality and Coincidence: Joining the Past to the Present and the Future
5. Consciousness: Mental Episodes of the Past, Present and Future
6. Illusion of Control and Illusion of Chaos: Mistaking Future Consequences
7. Goals and Values: Ways of Anchoring the Future
8. Understanding Human Behaviour from the Point of View of the Future is the Future of Psychological Research


A wonderfully original and masterly overview of how we think about our influence on the world and about how we sometimes develop delusional beliefs about ourselves as agents in the world. Osman is a pioneer in this fast-developing field and has written a clear and lucid book.' – David Shanks, Professor of Psychology, University College London, UK
'An extremely interesting book that conveys some very complex concepts and experiments in a very accessible way. The book is engaging and, unusually for a psychological text, difficult to put down.' – Richard J. Tunney, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Nottingham, UK
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