Journal of Social Sciences

MISCONSTRUING AGENCY: ISSUES RELATED TO FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM

Shirley Matile Ogletree

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2014.1.6

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 10, 2014

Pages 1-6

Abstract

Agency (related to intentionality and the importance of choices) and free will ("could have done otherwise") have been confounded in previous psychological research, with assessments and manipulations of free will often including items related to agency. Therefore, correlates previously associated with free will may, to some extent, be based on agentic assumptions. In this study 152 college students from a central Texas university, participating in on-line research using Qualtrics, read one of four essays that separately manipulated agency and free will in a 2×2 design. After reading the essays, participants completed assessments of blame, agency and free will. As hypothesized, the free will measure, but not the agency measure, significantly predicted blame, F (1,128) = 4.09, p<0.05. Although the manipulations were not successful in impacting the levels of agency or free will, the potential for experimentally manipulating the factors independently was illustrated. Free will and agency were moderately correlated, r (132) = 0.55, p<0.001, indicating that, in the understanding of laypersons, the two concepts are to some extent connected and likely related to low levels of deterministic beliefs in the U.S. culture.

Copyright

© 2014 Shirley Matile Ogletree. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.