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Belief in Free Will - Thesis proposal defense

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  • "Holmes is accused of fatally shooting 12 people and injuring 70 in a packed Denver-area movie theater in July 2012. Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty." (http://www.9news.com/news/article/339734/71/Judge-accepts-Aurora-theater-shooting-suspect-James-Holmes-insanity-plea)
  • Wherever responsibilities are sought, it is usually the instinct of wanting to judge and punish which is at work… The entire old psychology, the psychology of the will, was conditioned by the fact that its originators… wanted to create for themselves the right to punish… Men were considered “free” so that they might be judged and punished…
  • One prediction derived from the widely familiar self-serving bias (e.g., Kunda, 1987 ; Zuckerman, 1979), by which people seek to take credit for success but deny blame for failure. Similarly, negative agency bias (Baumeister, Stillwell, & Wotman, 1990 ; Morewedge, 2009) argues that people tend to hold attributions of success to internal factors and attributions of failures to external cause or to an agent. If so, positive actions by self might motivate higher free will (“I could have done bad, but I made the decision to do good”) and negative actions to less free will in order to reduce feelings of guilt (“I had no other choice, but to do harm,” “It was out of my control,” or “It was someone else’s fault.”).
  • [CM] Common Method
  • Transcript

    • 1. Thesis proposal defense Construal and Consequences of the Belief in Free Will Gilad Fili Feldman
    • 2. Agenda  Chapter 1      Background - The grand Free Will debate The Belief in Free Will (BFW) Research questions & framework overview Chapter 2 - Construal of BFW Chapter 3 - Consequences of BFW 2
    • 3. Debating Free Will Ellick Wong's Cognition Spring2012 class debate about what "Free Will" is... 3
    • 4. The grand Free Will debate Libet etal (1979, Brain) Roy Baumeister (2008a, 2008b, 2008c) Sam Harris (2012, book) Free will exists Free will doesn't exist 4
    • 5. The grand Free Will debate Exp Skinner (1971, book) nt Moveme hy Philosop , Science) l erimenta 11 4; hols (200 Nic 20 Daniel Wegner (2002 Book ; 2003 TCP) Free will might exist Free will doesn't exist 5
    • 6. But this debate has been going on for a while now… Epicurus (4th Century BC) “... whereas our own actions are autonomous, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach” (Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus) Free will exists Democritus (5th Century BC) “The first principles of the universe are atoms and empty space; everything else is merely thought to exist” (Democritus, IX, 44) 6 Free will doesn't exist
    • 7. And if you think that's confusing... "All is foreseen, but freedom is granted" (Akiva ben Joseph, 1st century, Talmud, Jewish philosophy) Free will exists but so does determinism 7
    • 8. Endless philosophical debates have really complicated things  E.g. Can free will coexist with determinism? 8
    • 9. Debated for 2500 years... Interesting, but can we move beyond this debate? The psychological approach : Rather than debating the existence of free will… Examining : Laypersons’ understanding of free will The belief in free will   The antecedents & construal of this belief. The consequences of this belief. 9
    • 10. Why should we care about BFW? Consequences for the person Vohs & Schooler (2008, PsycSci) 10
    • 11. Why should we care about BFW? Consequences for society Shot 12 people and injured 70 in a packed Denver-area movie theater in July 2012 11
    • 12. What is "Free Will"? Many definitions, many perspectives. But a recent effort in integration has led to : “The capacity to perform free actions” (Haggard et al., 2010) Free actions - the acting agent could have chosen to do otherwise (Baumeister, 2008a ; Kane, 1996, 2002 ; Monroe & Malle, 2010)   availability of alternative options capacity to freely choose among those options without coercion 12
    • 13. What is a “Belief in Free Will” (BFW)? Belief = 1.Cognitive link between an object and an attribute (e.g. ‘I’ and ‘free’) (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975, Book) 2.Mental representation of the estimate for the likelihood that a certain statement is true or not (Wyer & Albarracín, 2004, PsycBull) Belief in Free Will = The extent to which one endorses the statement that free will exists 13
    • 14. Free Will and other constructs (Pretest) N = 83, Amazon MTurk 14
    • 15. e.g. Free Will and Locus of Control   Locus of control : Attribution of outcomes to internal versus external causes Free will : Belief in freedom from both internal and external determinants   E.g. urges and needs perceived as internal locus of control but as inhibiting free will Relationship :     r = .17 (Waldman et al., 1983) r = .03ns (Stroessner & Green, 1990) r = ns to .33 (Rakos et al . 2008) r = .22 (pretest) 16
    • 16. Freedom <-> Choices / Decisions     Construal : "I chose, therefore I'm free" Motivation : “If I’m not free – why bother?” Perceived ability : “If I’m not free – I can’t really choose and make decisions!” Outcomes : Poor decision-making / Performance 17
    • 17. Freedom <-> Accountability   Construal : “If we're not free – how to hold people accountable for negative actions? Therefore... we must be free” Outcomes : “If I’m not free – it’s not my fault, I am not to blame for my actions” 18
    • 18. Findings regarding Belief in Free Will  Less cheating, stealing (Vohs & Schooler, 2008, PsycSci)  Less aggression, more helping (Baumeister, Accountability Masicampo, & DeWall, 2009, PSPB)  More moral learning from own misdeeds (Stillman & Baumeister, 2010, JESP)  Less passive / lower conformity (Alquist, Ainsworth, Baumeister, 2012, JESP)  Higher motivation to succeed (Stillman et al. 2010, SPPS) Choices / Decisions 19
    • 19. Research Questions  Construal of BFW –   How are the concepts of choice and accountability related to and affect the belief in free will? Consequences of BFW –  What are the behavioral implications of the belief in free will in predicting outcomes and performance? 20
    • 20. Overall framework Construal // Construal Activation Activation Consequences Consequences 2 experiments Making Choices 1 study : 3 time periods + + Belief in Free Will - + + Context Valence 7 experiments Choice attitudes & perceptions Self-Control + Performance + Academic ; Job 1 work context study 21
    • 21. Agenda  Chapter 1      Background - The grand Free Will debate The Belief in Free Will (BFW) Research questions & framework overview Chapter 2 - Construal of BFW Chapter 3 - Consequences of BFW 22
    • 22. The Cognition of BFW Very few studies, centered on biases... Agency - People believe they have more free will than others (Pronin & Kugler, 2010, PNAS) Agency - People attribute more will to a dead person than a person in a vegetative state (Gray, Knickman, & Wegner, 2011, Cognition) Time - People see their future actions as more free than their past actions (Helzer & Gilovich, 2012, PSPB) More is needed to uncover the cognitive underpinnings of BFW. What activates this belief? 23
    • 23. Intended Contribution: Construal Construal // Construal Activation Activation 1. BFW is construed and can be activated 2 experiments Making Choices + - BFW 2. 3. Choice activates BFW Valence influences BFW / perceptions Context Valence 7 experiments 24
    • 24. Why Choice? Laypersons view of FW : Choice Construal // Construal Activation Activation  2 experiments Making Choices + BFW Monroe & Malle (2010, RevPhilPyc) open-ended questions what having free will means  "the core of people’s concept of free will is a choice [...] free from internal or external constraints". 25
    • 25. Freedom <-> Choices / Decisions  Construal : "I chose, therefore I'm free"  Empirically - Recalling choices / Making choices would activate the belief in free will. 26
    • 26. BWF & Choice : Study 1 & 2 27
    • 27. Freedom <-> Accountability  Construal : “If we're not free – how to hold people accountable for negative actions? Therefore... we must be free” 28
    • 28. Friedrich Nietzsche (1886/1966 ; Twilight of the Idols) “Men were considered ‘free’ so that they might be judged and punished…” 29
    • 29. Societies and Legal Systems   Legal judgments based on assessment of free will (Greene & Cohen, 2004 ; Roskies, 2006) Legal accountability - requires proof that the person 'could have done otherwise' (Burns & Bechara, 2007)    No external coercing influences (e.g. having a gun to the person’s head) Not due to uncontrollable urges (e.g. temporary insanity) Contract valid only if two sides have entered out of their own free will (Cohen, 1933) 30
    • 30. Laypersons view of FW : Moral Responsibility  Construal // Construal Activation Activation BFW - Stillman, Baumeister & Mele (2011, PhilPsyc) rated experiences as free or not free. Free experiences :   Context Valence Conscious reflection Social action-control / Moral responsibility 7 experiments 31
    • 31. Consequences of Belief in Free Will  Less cheating, stealing (Vohs & Schooler, 2008, PsycSci)  Less aggression, more helping (Baumeister, Accountability Masicampo, & DeWall, 2009, PSPB)  More moral learning from own misdeeds (Stillman & Baumeister, 2010, JESP) 32
    • 32. Predictions   Attributions of free will to others - negative > positive Attributions of free will to self - competing predictions :    Self-serving bias (Kunda, 1987 ; Zuckerman, 1979) or negative agency bias (Baumeister, Stillwell, & Wotman, 1990 ; Morewedge, 2009) : positive > negative Nietzsche (1886) : negative > positive Pronin & Kugler (2010) : self > others 33
    • 33. Studies 3 to 8 34
    • 34. Studies 8 & 9 35
    • 35. Agenda  Chapter 1      Background - The grand Free Will debate The Belief in Free Will (BFW) Research questions & framework overview Chapter 2 - Construal of BFW Chapter 3 - Consequences of BFW 36
    • 36. Chapter 3 : Consequences of BFW Consequences Consequences 1 study : 3 time periods + Belief in Free Will Choice attitudes & perceptions + + Self-Control + Performance + Academic ; Job 1 work context study 37
    • 37. Cognitive association between BFW and Choice  "I'm free to choose, therefore I enjoy having choices and making decisions"   Consequences Consequences 1 study : 3 time periods Belief in Free Will BFW would predict stronger preference and more positive attitudes towards choice Which will predict better outcomes + Choice attitudes & perceptions + Performance Academic ; Job 1 work context study 39
    • 38. Freedom <-> Accountability  Outcomes : “If I’m not free – it’s not my fault, I am not to blame for my actions” 40
    • 39. Consequences of Belief in Free Will  Less passive / lower conformity (Alquist, Ainsworth, Baumeister, 2012, JESP)  Higher motivation to succeed (Stillman et al. Choices / Decisions 2010, SPPS) 41
    • 40. Freedom <-> Choices / Decisions    Motivation : “If I’m not free – why bother?” "I didn't choose this" (Fujita, 2011) Perceived ability : “If I’m not free – I can’t really choose and make decisions!” Outcomes : Poor decision-making / performance Consequences Consequences Belief in Free Will + Performance Academic ; Job 1 work context study 42 42
    • 41. Free Will and Self Control     “An agent’s capacity to sustain, stop, amplify, or otherwise modify an incipient or unwanted response or action” (Haggard, Mele, O’Connor, & Vohs, 2010) Ability to resist temptation & overcome self Free will allows for self control (person may also choose to “let go”) Free will as choosing the direction ; Self Control as the pursuit of that direction 43
    • 42. Self Control & Performance  Self Control: One of the best predictors for positive outcomes in life  Academic outcomes (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005 ; Mischel, Shoda, & Rodriguez, 1989; Schmitz & Skinner, 1993)   Job performance (Porath & Bateman, 2006) Findings: Implicit lay theories of willpower counteract the effects of ego-depletion (Boucher & Kofos, 2012 ; Job, Dweck, & Walton, 2010) 44
    • 43. Interaction between Self Control & FWB  Consequences Consequences Ways to affect selfcontrol:    Initiating self-control strategies Influencing the motivation to exert self-control Influence the resource pool from which self-control draws Belief in Free Will + SelfControl Performance + Academic ; Job 1 work context study 45 45
    • 44. Summary : BFW<->Outcomes mechanisms Consequences Consequences    Mediator : Choice Attitudes Moderator: Interaction with SelfControl Motivation & Perceived Ability 1 study : 3 time periods + Belief in Free Will Choice attitudes & perceptions + + SelfControl + Performance + Academic ; Job 1 work context study 46
    • 45. Outcomes : Studies 1 & 2 47
    • 46. Summary: Overall framework Construal // Construal Activation Activation Consequences Consequences 2 experiments Making Choices 1 study : 3 time periods + + Belief in Free Will - + + Context Valence 7 experiments Choice attitudes & perceptions Self-Control + Performance + Academic ; Job 1 work context study 50