Does encouraging a belief in determinism increase cheating? Reconsidering the value of believing in free will release_ujigxnoqw5dofl2clh5235gxby

by Thomas Nadelhoffer, Jason Shepard, Damien Crone, Jim Everett, Brian Earp, Neil Levy

Released as a post by Center for Open Science.



One of the key sources of support for the view that challenging people's beliefs about free will may undermine moral behavior is a classic study by Vohs and Schooler (2008). These authors reported that exposure to certain prompts suggesting that free will is an illusion increased cheating behavior among study participants. In the present paper, we report several attempts to replicate this influential and widely cited work. Over a series of four high-powered studies (three preregistered) we tested the relationship between (1) anti-free-will prompts and free will beliefs and (2) free will beliefs and immoral behavior. Our primary task was to closely replicate the findings from Vohs and Schooler (2008) using the same or similar manipulations and measurements as the ones used in their original studies. Our efforts were largely unsuccessful. We suggest that manipulating free will beliefs in a robust way is more difficult than has been implied by prior work, and that the proposed link with immoral behavior may be similarly tenuous.
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