Cultural pressure and biased responding in free will attitudes.

Abstract

textlessptextgreater Whether you believe free will exists has profound effects on your behaviour, across different levels of processing, from simple motor action to social cognition. It is therefore important to understand which specific lay theories are held in the general public and why. Past research largely focused on investigating free will beliefs (FWB, ‘Do you think free will exists?'), but largely ignored a second key aspect: free will attitudes (FWA, ‘Do you like/value will?'). Attitudes are often independently predictive of behaviour, relative to beliefs, yet we currently know very little about FWAs in the general public. One key issue is whether such attitudes are subject to biased, socially desirable responding. The vast majority of the general public strongly believes in the existence of free will, which might create cultural pressure to value free will positively as well. In this registered report, we used a very large ( textlessitalictextgreaterNtextless/italictextgreater = 1100), open available dataset measuring implicit and explicit attitudes towards free will and determinism to address this issue. Our results indicate that both explicit and implicit attitudes towards free will are more positive than attitudes towards determinism. We also show that people experience cultural pressure to value free will, and to devalue determinism. Yet, we found no strong evidence that this cultural pressure affected either implicit or explicit attitudes in this dataset. textless/ptextgreater

Publication
Royal Society Open Science, 7, 191824