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The Effects of Inducing Disbelief in Free Will on Subsequent Cognitive Performance

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abstract
Although previous research indicates that belief in free will influences social behavior and mental processes, its effect on cognitive performance has not yet been examined. Thus, the current study investigated the effects of inducing disbelief in free will on performance on cognitive tasks involving self-regulation, response inhibition, mind-wandering, and working memory. Self-efficacy was hypothesized to mediate this relationship. Disbelief in free will was induced among participants by having them read passages from a book supporting the deterministic theory. Next, their performance on the Stroop task, the go/no-go task and the retrieval task was assessed. Free Will and Determinism (FWD) scale was used as a manipulation check, while the New General Self-Efficacy Scale (NGSES) measured self-efficacy. Study findings indicate that participants in the experimental group performed more poorly on the cognitive tasks than control participants. Thus, inducing disbelief in free will resulted in increased mind-wandering without awareness and reduced self-regulation, response inhibition and working memory performance. In contrast, disbelief in free will did not have any effect on self-efficacy. Furthermore, self-efficacy was not significantly related to cognitive performance. In conclusion, belief in free will had a significant influence on cognitive performance, but self-efficacy did not mediate this effect.
subject
Belief in free will
Mind-wandering
Response inhibition
Self-efficacy
Self-regulation
contributor
Kaczkowski, Wojciech (author)
Dagenbach, Dale (committee chair)
Blumenthal, Terry (committee member)
Rejeski, Jack (committee member)
Seta, Catherine E (committee member)
date
2012-06-12T08:35:58Z (accessioned)
2012 (issued)
degree
Psychology (discipline)
10000-01-01 (liftdate)
embargo
forever (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/37282 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
The Effects of Inducing Disbelief in Free Will on Subsequent Cognitive Performance
type
Thesis

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