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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Effect of Belief in Free Will on Prejudice

By Xian Zhao, Li Liu, Xiao-xiao Zhang, Jia-xin Shi, and  Zhen-wei Huang
Published: March 12, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091572

Abstract

The current research examined the role of the belief in free will on prejudice across Han Chinese and white samples. Belief in free will refers to the extent to which people believe human beings truly have free will. In Study 1, the beliefs of Han Chinese people in free will were measured, and their social distances from the Tibetan Chinese were used as an index of ethnic prejudice. The results showed that the more that Han Chinese endorsed the belief in free will, the less that they showed prejudice against the Tibetan Chinese. In Study 2, the belief of the Han Chinese in free will was manipulated, and their explicit feelings towards the Uyghur Chinese were used as an indicator of ethnic prejudice. The results showed that the participants in the condition of belief in free will reported less prejudice towards Uyghur Chinese compared to their counterparts in the condition of disbelief in free will. In Study 3, white peoples’ belief in free will was manipulated, and their pro-black attitudes were measured as an indirect indicator of racial prejudice. The results showed that, compared to the condition of disbelief in free will, the participants who were primed by a belief in free will reported stronger pro-black attitudes. These three studies suggest that endorsement of the belief in free will can lead to decreased ethnic/racial prejudice compared to denial of the belief in free will. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

The entire study is here.
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