The Dark Side Of Sense Of Agency And How To Strike A Balance

Last updated on November 29th, 2023 at 11:34 pm

The dark side of sense of agency gives an elusive sense of control or distortion that make an individual deceptive, manipulative, and even prone to cause harm.

It is an aspect of human experience that allows us to perceive ourselves as the masters of our fate, but it has got a dark side.

It is the feeling that we are in control of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and that we can shape our lives according to our will.

However, recent research has uncovered the dark side of sense of agency that reveals its potential for manipulation, deception, and even harm.

The dark side of sense of agency refers to the ways in which this feeling of control can be distorted or exploited to serve nefarious purposes.

For example, studies have shown that people who have a strong sense of agency are more likely to engage in unethical behavior, such as cheating, lying, and stealing.

This is because they feel that they are above the rules and can bend them to their will without consequences.

Related: Personal Power: How To Unleash Your Inner Strength

Moreover, the sense of agency can be manipulated by external factors, such as social pressure, authority figures, and propaganda.

In these cases, people may feel that they are acting of their own free will, but in reality, they are being coerced or influenced by outside forces.

This can lead to harmful outcomes, such as conformity, obedience, and even violence.

Another aspect of the dark side of sense of agency is its potential for self-deception and delusion.

People who have an inflated sense of agency may overestimate their abilities, ignore feedback and criticism, and engage in risky or reckless behavior.

This can lead to failure, disappointment, and even tragedy.

By understanding the dark side of a sense of agency, we can guard against its negative effects and use it in a more responsible and ethical manner.

Recommended: The Role of Personal Agency in Resilience

Table of Contents

Potentials for The Dark Side of Sense of Agency

The sense of agency is a powerful force that allows us to feel in control of our lives and actions.

However, this feeling of control can also have the dark side of sense of agency on the flipside, leading to narcissism, blaming others for one’s failures, power struggles, and conflicts.

1. Development of Narcissism and Egocentrism

The development of narcissism and egocentrism is a potential dark side of the sense of agency.

When individuals have a strong sense of agency, they may begin to believe that they are the center of the universe and that their needs and desires are more important than those of others.

This can lead to a lack of empathy and concern for others, as well as a tendency to exploit and manipulate others for personal gain.

Narcissism

Narcissism is a personality disorder identifiable by a grandiose sense of self-importance, an absence of empathy for others, and an inordinate desire for admiration.

They may believe that they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, and they may exploit and manipulate others to get what they want.

Egocentrism

Egocentrism is on the dark side of sense of agency. A cognitive bias characterized by a focus on one’s own perspective and a lack of consideration for the perspectives of others.

They may believe that their perspective is the only valid one and may dismiss or ignore the perspectives of others.

The development of narcissism and egocentrism can have negative consequences for individuals and those around them.

Narcissistic individuals may engage in exploitative and manipulative behavior, which can damage relationships and lead to a lack of trust.

Egocentric individuals may be unable to consider the perspectives of others, which can lead to a lack of cooperation and collaboration.

Related: How to Develop Your Personality

2. Blaming Others

Another potential for the dark side of sense of agency is the possibility of blaming others for one’s failures.

Some individuals who have a strong sense of agency have the tendency not to take responsibility for their failures.

Blaming others can have negative consequences for individuals and those around them.

It can damage relationships and lead to a lack of trust. When individuals blame others for their failures, they may be seen as lacking accountability and responsibility.

This can lead to a lack of respect and trust from others, which can damage relationships and hinder progress.

Moreover, blaming others can also lead to a lack of personal growth and development.

When individuals are in the habit of blaming others for their failures, they may be unable to learn from their mistakes and improve their performance.

3. Power Struggles and Conflicts

Power struggles and conflicts are potential dark sides of sense of agency.

Most people who have a sense of agency may feel entitled to control others and their environment.

This always happens in every setting. There must someone who feels entitled and wants to tell others what to do.

This can lead to conflicts with others who also have a strong sense of agency, as well as with those who do not share the same level of control.

Power struggles and conflicts can cause issues that could hinder togetherness and collaboration.

When individuals engage in power struggles and conflicts, they may be unable to work together effectively, which can stunt progress and development.

Also, power struggles and conflicts can also lead to negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, and resentment.

Power struggles make people become emotionally invested in the outcome, which can lead to negative emotions and stress, impacting negatively mental health and well-being.

Examples of Situations where a Sense of Agency has led to Narcissistic and Egocentric Behaviour

There are many examples of people and situations where a sense of agency has led to narcissistic and egocentric behavior.

Here are a few examples:

  • Politicians: Politicians often have a strong sense of agency, as they believe that they can make a difference in the world. However, this can sometimes lead to narcissistic and egocentric behavior, as they may become more focused on their own power and influence than on the needs of their constituents.
  • Celebrities: Celebrities often have a strong sense of agency, as they believe that they can shape their own careers and influence the world around them. This has the ability to result in narcissistic and egocentric behavior, as they may become more focused on their own fame and fortune than on the needs of their fans and supporters.
  • Business Leaders: Business leaders often have a strong sense of agency, as they believe that they can shape the direction of their companies and the economy as a whole. This can cause the exhibition of narcissistic and egocentric behavior, as they may become more focused on their own profits and success than on the needs of their employees and customers.
  • Athletes: Athletes often have a strong sense of agency, as they believe that they can control their own performance and achieve success on the field or court. This toxic trait can lead to a feeling of superiority and entitlement as they may become more focused on their own stats and achievements than on the needs of their team and fans.
  • Social Media Influencers: Social media influencers often have a strong sense of agency, as they believe that they can shape the opinions and behaviors of their followers. This has the ability to cause egocentric attitudes, being more concerned about their own popularity and influence than the needs of their followers and the wider community.

Balancing Sense of Agency with Other Traits

It is important to balance this sense of agency with other traits, such as empathy, accountability, and collaboration, in order to achieve personal development and growth.

  • Empathy: Empathy is the trait of understanding, identifying and sharing the feelings of others. When individuals have a strong sense of agency, they may become focused on their own needs and desires, which can lead to a lack of empathy for others. However, by balancing their sense of agency with empathy, individuals can develop stronger relationships and foster trust with others. This can lead to personal growth and development, as well as a greater sense of well-being and fulfillment.
  • Accountability: Accountability is the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions and decisions. When individuals have a strong sense of agency, they may be tempted to blame others for their failures or mistakes. However, by balancing their sense of agency with accountability, individuals can learn from their mistakes and take steps to improve their performance. This can result to personal growth and development, as well as a greater sense of self-awareness and self-improvement.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration is the ability to work effectively with others towards a common goal. A strong sense of agency may hinder this and individuals may be tempted to control others to their own advantage. By balancing their sense of agency with collaboration, individuals can achieve greater success and progress.

Conclusion

The sense of agency is a fundamental aspect of human experience that allows us to perceive ourselves as the initiators of our actions and the masters of our fate.

However, recent research has uncovered the dark side of sense of agency that reveals its potential for manipulation, deception, and even harm.

The development of narcissism and egocentrism, blaming others for one’s failures, and power struggles and conflicts are all potential dark sides of sense of agency that can have negative consequences for individuals and those around them.

To strike a balance, it is important to recognize the potential for these negative outcomes and work to mitigate their effects.

pyomerez@gmail.com | Website | + posts

Pyo Merez (PsyD) is a distinguished adolescent and adult psychologist at the forefront of mental health advocacy.

With expertise in cognitive and developmental psychology, focusing on social relationships, cultural contexts, and individual differences, Pyo has dedicated his career to empowering adolescents and adults.

As a sought-after speaker and panelist, Pyo shares invaluable insights on issues affecting young people, contributing to a deeper understanding of mental health and well-being in today's society.