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Abstract

Some people believe more than others in free will, and researchers have both measured and manipulated those beliefs. Disbelief in free will has been shown to cause dishonest, selfish, aggressive, and conforming behavior, and to reduce helpfulness, learning from one’s misdeeds, thinking for oneself, recycling, expectations for occupational success, and actual quality of performance on the job. Belief in free will has been shown to have only modest or negligible correlations with other variables, indicating that it is a distinct trait. Belief in free will has correlated positively with life satisfaction and finding life meaningful, with self-efficacy and self-control, with low levels of stress, and (though not entirely consistently) with internal locus of control. High belief in free will has been linked to a punitive attitude toward wrongdoers and lower forgiveness toward them. The belief seems to involve a sense of agency and expecting others to behave in morally responsible fashion.