Funding will further scientific research on free will.
Associate Professor Kathleen Vohs, the Land O'Lakes Professor for Excellence in Marketing, recently received two grants from the John Templeton Foundation.
The first grant, entitled "The Psychology of Free Will: Beliefs About Free Will and Behavioral Effects of Altering Those Beliefs," is for $293,209 and will be shared with Georgia State, Dickenson College, and UC Santa Barbara. The specific aims of this interdisciplinary proposal are to demonstrate (1) how people's beliefs about free will interact with their beliefs about determinism, reductionism, dualism, moral responsibility, punishment, and related concepts; and (2) how people's beliefs and behaviors change in response to information about the existence or non-existence of free will, as well as other constituent assumptions that may be enmeshed with beliefs about free will.
The second grant, shared with Florida State, is entitled "From Free Will Beliefs to Virtuous Behaviors" and is in the amount of $249,599. The aim of this work is to demonstrate that a belief in free will is an essential component of outcomes that bring rewards to the self and society. This will be accomplished by showing via laboratory experiments that when people are encouraged to believe that free will is a viable and genuine concept, they behave in healthy, wise, and other-oriented ways.