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Free Will, Causes, and Decisions Individual Differences in Written Reports

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We present evidence indicating new individual differences with people's intuitions about the relation of determinism to freedom and moral responsibility. We analysed participants' written explanations of why a person acted. Participants offered one of either 'decision' or 'causal' based explanations of behaviours in some paradigmatic cases. Those who gave causal explanations tended to have more incompatibilist intuitions than those who gave decision explanations. Importantly, the affective content of a scenario influenced the type of explanation given. Scenarios containing highly affective actions (e.g. murder) tended to generate more decision explanations than scenarios with low affective content (e.g. cheating on taxes). These results give important clues about the proximal processes generating some intuitions about free will and moral responsibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Schreiner University, School of Liberal Arts, 2100 Memorial Boulevard, Kerrville, TX 78028-5697, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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