Belief in Free Will Is Related to Internal Attribution in Self-Perception

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Past research indicates that individuals’ belief in free will is related to attributing others’ behavior to internal causes. An open question is whether belief in free will is related to the attribution of one’s own action. To answer this question, we tested two opposing predictions against each other by assessing the relation of belief in free will with the self-serving bias—individuals’ tendency to attribute personal success more strongly to internal forces and failure to external forces. The resource hypothesis predicts that a higher endorsement in free will belief relates to a lower self-serving bias. The intention attribution hypothesis predicts that belief in free will relates to higher internal attributions, as compared with external attributions, irrespective of success and failure. Meta-analytic evidence across five high-powered studies (total N = 1,137) supports the intention attribution hypothesis, but not the resource hypothesis (materials and data are available on the Open Science Framework:

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1259-1268
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

    Research areas

  • free will belief, intention attribution, self-regulation, self-serving bias
  • Business psychology