There might be value in examining the phenomenon of free will, without attempting to solve the debate surrounding its existence. Studies have suggested that diminishing belief in free will increases cheating behavior and that basic physiological states such as appetite diminish free will. These findings, if robust, could have important philosophical and ethical implications. Accordingly, we aimed to critically review methodologies and results in the body of literature that speaks to the two following questions: (1) whether certain factors can change belief in free will or not (static or dynamic property of free will) and (2) whether changes in belief in free will impact different attitudinal or behavioral factors or not (consequential or inconsequential property of free will). Searching the PubMed and PsycInfo databases with different keyword strategies supplemented with reference section searches, we found 52 relevant papers for review. For each distinct study, we extracted information regarding: (1) sample characteristics and related analyses, (2) procedures and methodology, (3) factors investigated, results, and effect sizes (if reported). Overall, we found that the samples were heavily constituted of women, of students and younger participants, with little information about representation of ethnic minorities. Procedures and methodology relied strongly on the use of experimental manipulations and a wide array of scales, including scales created by researchers. Several studies suggest the static and consequential properties of belief in free will. However, these conclusions are restrained by numerous limitations of the supporting body of evidence and the absence of replication studies.


Ewusi-Boisvert E, Racine E Neuroethics (2018) 11: 97.


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