Free Will in Scientific Psychology

  title={Free Will in Scientific Psychology},
  author={Roy F. Baumeister},
  journal={Perspectives on Psychological Science},
  pages={14 - 19}
  • R. Baumeister
  • Published 1 January 2008
  • Psychology
  • Perspectives on Psychological Science
Some actions are freer than others, and the difference is palpably important in terms of inner process, subjective perception, and social consequences. Psychology can study the difference between freer and less free actions without making dubious metaphysical commitments. Human evolution seems to have created a relatively new, more complex form of action control that corresponds to popular notions of free will. It is marked by self-control and rational choice, both of which are highly adaptive… 
Free Will in Behavior: Believing Makes It So
Free will is not an illusion, and its belief is widespread and has important consequences, for example, in self-control. The research findings apparently show that the intention to move follows
Believing versus Disbelieving in Free Will: Correlates and Consequences
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
Intentional activity and free will as core concepts in criminal law and psychology
Whether or not intentional actions initiated and formed by free will exist, it can be shown that lack of belief in such behavior makes people behave less ethically and less law-abidingly (they cheat
A Proposal for a Scientifically-Informed and Instrumentalist Account of Free Will and Voluntary Action
This paper contextualizes ontological and epistemological debates about free will, describes a scientifically-informed and instrumentalist account of the concept of free will and voluntary action consistent with recent research in cognitive science, and discusses its implications for research and practice.
Towards a psychology of free action
Although freedom has been of grave concern to people for centuries, it has surprisingly not been a central topic in psychology. The goal of this article is to begin constructing a theoretical
Operationalizing and Measuring (a Kind of) Free Will (and Responsibility). Towards a New Framework for Psychology, Ethics, and Law
Abstract : Free will is usually defined by three conditions: (1) the ability to do otherwise; (2) control of one’s own choices; (3) responsiveness to reasons. The compatibility of free will with
The Influence of (Dis)belief in Free Will on Immoral Behavior
The results show that participants who were primed with a text defending neural determinism – the idea that humans are a mere bunch of neurons guided by their biology – administered fewer shocks and were less vindictive toward the other participant, and this finding only held for female participants, showing the complex interaction between gender, beliefs in free will and moral behavior.
Free Will and Neuroscience: From Explaining Freedom Away to New Ways of Operationalizing and Measuring It
The article proposes to start from an operationalizable concept of free will to find a connection between higher order descriptions (useful for practical life) and neural bases, and is linked to the idea of “capacity”: that is, the availability of a repertoire of general skills that can be manifested and used without moment by moment conscious control.
From Intentions to Neurons: Social and Neural Consequences of Disbelieving in Free Will
The problem of free will is among the most fascinating and disputed questions throughout the history of philosophy and psychology. Traditionally limited to philosophical and theological debate, in
Consciousness, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility
In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has


Prosocial Benefits of Feeling Free: Disbelief in Free Will Increases Aggression and Reduces Helpfulness
The current results suggest that disbelief in free will reduces helping and increases aggression, and does not speak to the existence of free will.
Ego depletion: is the active self a limited resource?
The results suggest that the self's capacity for active volition is limited and that a range of seemingly different, unrelated acts share a common resource.
The Value of Believing in Free Will
The study of whether inducing participants to believe that human behavior is predetermined would encourage cheating suggests that the debate over free will has societal, as well as scientific and theoretical, implications.
Do we have free will
I have taken an experimental approach to this question. Freely voluntary acts are pre ceded by a specific electrical change in the brain (the ‘readiness potential’, RP) that begins 550 ms before the
Rationality in Action
The study of rationality and practical reason, or rationality in action, has been central to Western intellectual culture. In this invigorating book, John Searle lays out six claims of what he calls
The Unconscious Mind
  • J. Bargh, Ezequiel Morsella
  • Psychology, Biology
    Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science
  • 2008
The evidence challenging this restricted view of the unconscious emerging from contemporary social cognition research is reviewed, which has traditionally defined the unconscious in terms of its unintentional nature; this research has demonstrated the existence of several independent unconscious behavioral guidance systems: perceptual, evaluative, and motivational.
The illusion of conscious will
Wegner (Wegner, D. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press) argues that conscious will is an illusion, citing a wide range of empirical evidence. I shall begin by surveying some of his
Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.
Research guided by self-determination theory has focused on the social-contextual conditions that facilitate versus forestall the natural processes of self-motivation and healthy psychological development, leading to the postulate of three innate psychological needs--competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Apparent mental causation. Sources of the experience of will.
The experience of willing an act arises from interpreting one's thought as the cause of the act. Conscious will is thus experienced as a function of the priority, consistency, and exclusivity of the
The Cultural Animal
What makes us human? Why do people think, feel, and act as they do? What is the essence of human nature? What is the basic relationship between the individual and society? These questions have