Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

College

College of Arts & Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Supervisor

Reed Mueller, Ph.D.

Keywords

free will, determinism, sense of agency, prosocial behaviors

Abstract

The concept of human agency refers to whether or not free will exists. Over the course of history, several philosophers and psychologists have debated this particular topic. As a result, three divergent schools of thought have emerged. One such school posits the doctrine of free will; another articulates the doctrine of determinism. Still another school of thought holds that free will and determinism cannot exist outside of one another. This concept is called compatibilism. Human agency is a necessary contextualization for the scope of the present study. While the debate of human agency has not been fully resolved, this study is concerned with the implications of the belief in agency. Individual belief in free will is referred to as sense of agency. Researchers have indicated that the mere belief in free will or determinism produces cognitive and behavioral effects. A higher belief in free will is correlated with positive cognitive benefits and prosocial behaviors. A diminished sense of agency is correlated with negative cognitive effects and antisocial behaviors. The present study seeks to determine if sense of agency could be primed and subsequently enhanced. If enhanced, the study seeks to determine if a heightened belief in free will leads to an increased exhibition of prosocial behaviors. The present study included the participation of 130 individuals. No significant data was found.

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Psychology Commons

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