University of Twente Student Theses


How do attitudes on free will relate to students' imagination of the future?

Nagelmann, Stina (2019) How do attitudes on free will relate to students' imagination of the future?

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Abstract:Introduction. The debate about whether free will exists or not has always been a controversial issue in Philosophy. Lately, psychologists have started to explore what effects different attitudes on free will have on people. Research suggests that the disbelief in free will induces more passive, antisocial and unethical behavior in humans. On the other hand, belief in free will has been shown to be associated with increased life satisfaction, more helping behavior and sociality overall. This study takes a qualitative approach using narrative futuring to explore how different attitudes on free will relate to students’ imagination of the future. Methods. Fifteen students from the University of Twente were randomly assigned to one of three groups (indeterministic, deterministic, control) and primed accordingly concerning the intended attitude towards free will. They asked to engage in a guided mediation and to write a letter from the future to their present self. Additionally, the participants were asked to report their perceived freedom and perceived likeliness of the future to actually occur. The letters were coded both inductively and deductively, resulting in a coding scheme consisting of the three main codes Connection, Agency, and Fulfilment/Happiness, in terms of which the letters were then analyzed. Results. The most prevalent theme was Connection, which was almost equally as present in the deterministic and indeterministic condition. In the deterministic condition, Valuing family members and Working for the greater good and personal fulfilment were most present, whereas Finding meaning in friendships was especially important in the indeterministic condition. Within the theme Agency, Continuation of the past was the most prevalent theme in the deterministic condition, whilst for the indeterministic condition, Taking ownership of one’s actions and achievements had the highest frequencies. Additionally, the prevalence of Fulfilment/Happiness did not differ significantly between the conditions. Lastly, perceived freedom was higher in the deterministic than in the indeterministic condition, whilst perceived likeliness was higher in the indeterministic than in the deterministic condition. Discussion and Conclusions. This study shows that attitudes on free will have an influence on how students imagine their future, particularly concerning the themes Connection and Agency, which can be related to the basic motives of human existence, Connection and Agency. Further research is suggested regarding the overall generalizability and validity of the findings
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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