Levels of Personal Agency: Individual Variation in Action Identification

Abstract: This research examined individual differences in action identification level as measured by the Behavior Identification Form. Action identification theory holds that any action can be identified in many ways, ranging from low-level identities that specify how the action is performed to high-level identities that signify why or with what effect the action is performed. People who identify action at a uniformly lower or higher level across many action domains, then, may be characterized in terms of their standing on a broad personality dimension: level of personal agency. High-level agents think about their acts in encompassing terms that incorporate the motives and larger meanings of the action, whereas low-level agents think about their acts in terms of the details or means of action. Research on the convergent, divergent, and predictive validity of this construct examined its implications for the individual’s overall competence in action, for the individual’s inclination toward planful vs impulsive action, and for the degree to which the individual’s actions are organized by and reflected in the self-concept.

Reference Information

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Method(s) Used in Paper

Behavior Identification Form

by Robin Vallacher and Daniel Wegner.
Published in "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" in 1989.

APA-Format Citation

Vallacher, R. R., & Wegner, D. M. (1989). Levels of personal agency: Individual variation in action identification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(4), 660-671.