Disassociating the Agent From the Self
Social Psychological and Personality Science 1948550616653810, first published on June 17, 2016 doi:10.1177/1948550616653810
Undermining the belief in free will influences thoughts and behavior, yet little research has explored its implications for the self and identity. The current studies examined whether lowering free will beliefs reduces perceived true self-knowledge. First, a new free will manipulation was validated. Next, in Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to high belief or low belief in free will conditions and completed measures of true self-knowledge. In Study 2, participants completed the same free will manipulation and a moral decision-making task. We then assessed participants’ perceived sense of authenticity during the task. Results illustrated that attenuating free will beliefs led to less self-knowledge, such that participants reported feeling more alienated from their true selves and experienced lowered perceptions of authenticity while making moral decisions. The interplay between free will and the true self are discussed.