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The present research suggests that people's bodily states affect their beliefs about free will. The more intensely people felt sexual desire, physical tiredness, and the need to urinate, the less they believed in free will (Study 1). People with epilepsy and people with panic disorder, which are disorders characterized by a lack of control over one's body, reported less belief in free will compared to people without such disorders (Study 2). In Study 3, among people who were not especially resistant to attempted manipulation by others (i.e., low in trait psychological reactance), those who had their involuntary reflexes triggered reported less belief in free will compared to those who demonstrated a voluntary response. In Study 4, trait reactance moderated the effect of an essay-reading task (pro-determinism vs. control) on people's self-reported beliefs about determinism (a construct related to free will) and on people's level of helpfulness (a variable that has been shown in previous research to be related to belief in free will). Thus, this research supports two claims: 1) bodily states affect free will beliefs, and 2) trait reactance moderates the effects of free will belief manipulations
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Roy Baumeister, Professor Directing Thesis; Ashby Plant, Committee Member; Michael Kaschak, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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