Believing There Is No Free Will Corrupts Intuitive Cooperation

14 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2015 Last revised: 29 Feb 2016

See all articles by John Protzko

John Protzko

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Brett Ouimette

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB); Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Jonathan Schooler

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Date Written: October 7, 2015

Abstract

Regardless of whether free will exists, believing that it does can affect one’s behavior. When an individual’s belief in free will is challenged, one can become more likely to act in an uncooperative manner. The mechanism behind the relationship between one’s belief in free will and behavior is still debated. The current study uses an economic contribution game under varying time constraints to elucidate whether reducing one’s belief in free will allows one to justify negative behavior or if the effects are at a more intuitive level of processing. Here we show that although people are intuitively cooperative, challenging their belief in free will corrupts this behavior, leading to impulsive selfishness. If given time to think, however, people are able to override the initial inclination towards self-interest induced by discouraging a belief in free will.

Keywords: Free Will, Morality, Game Theory

Suggested Citation

Protzko, John and Ouimette, Brett and Schooler, Jonathan, Believing There Is No Free Will Corrupts Intuitive Cooperation (October 7, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2490855 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2490855

John Protzko (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences ( email )

Santan Barbara, CA
United States

Brett Ouimette

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) ( email )

Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

8700 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
United States

Jonathan Schooler

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) ( email )

Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

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