Students Who Believe They Have More "Free Will" Do Better Academically

Posted on January 7, 2016

The research was focused on whether people thought traits such as intelligence and self-control were fixed or malleable.

A study was carried out showing that students who believe they have "free will" in the philosophical sense (they agree with statements like "I have free will" and "I am in charge of my actions even when my life's circumstances are difficult") tend to do better academically. The results suggest that people's fundamental beliefs about the limits of human choices affects their scholarly performance.

The study included asking 116 undergrads (a mix of Hong Kong Chinese, Chinese and international students) to rate how much free will they have on a sliding scale from 0 to 100 and then to complete a proof-reading challenge. The students who said they had more free will did better at spotting mistakes in the text, finding more of them in less time.

Past research has shown that the consequences of belief in free will, such as that people who believe more strongly in their own free will are better able to learn from their mistakes. Hence a student that believes more strongly on their own free will would take appropriate proactive steps to deal with academic challenges.

However, in theory it should be easier to influence people's belief in free will (and other ability related beliefs) in ways that contribute to better academic performance.

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Category(s):Academic Issues

Source material from BPS Research Digest

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