Free will and punishment: a mechanistic view of human nature reduces retribution

Shariff, Azim F., Greene, Joshua D., Karremans, Johan C., Luguri, Jamie B., Clark, Cory J., Schooler, Jonathan W., Baumeister, Roy F. and Vohs, Kathleen D. (2014) Free will and punishment: a mechanistic view of human nature reduces retribution. Psychological Science, 25 8: 1563-1570. doi:10.1177/0956797614534693

Author Shariff, Azim F.
Greene, Joshua D.
Karremans, Johan C.
Luguri, Jamie B.
Clark, Cory J.
Schooler, Jonathan W.
Baumeister, Roy F.
Vohs, Kathleen D.
Title Free will and punishment: a mechanistic view of human nature reduces retribution
Journal name Psychological Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1467-9280
Publication date 2014-08-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0956797614534693
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 25
Issue 8
Start page 1563
End page 1570
Total pages 8
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA United States
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Abstract If free-will beliefs support attributions of moral responsibility, then reducing these beliefs should make people less retributive in their attitudes about punishment. Four studies tested this prediction using both measured and manipulated free-will beliefs. Study 1 found that people with weaker free-will beliefs endorsed less retributive, but not consequentialist, attitudes regarding punishment of criminals. Subsequent studies showed that learning about the neural bases of human behavior, through either lab-based manipulations or attendance at an undergraduate neuroscience course, reduced people’s support for retributive punishment (Studies 2–4). These results illustrate that exposure to debates about free will and to scientific research on the neural basis of behavior may have consequences for attributions of moral responsibility.
Keyword Free will
Open materials
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 46 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 03 Jul 2017, 18:21:34 EST by Mrs Alison Pike on behalf of School of Psychology