The Value of Believing in Free Will: Encouraging a Belief in Determinism Increases Cheating
Reading material that promotes a deterministic viewpoint—a belief that one’s actions are pre-determined—encourages students to cheat, suggests a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
The researchers conducted two experiments on 30 undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia. The first experiment involved giving participants either a neutral or a deterministic text to read, while the second gave participants either a deterministic text or a text on free will. After each reading, the students were given a series of math problems, with opportunities for cheating.
The results showed that those who had read the deterministic texts cheated most frequently, and that those who had read the free-will texts cheated the least. Those who had read the neutral texts were in between the two extremes.
A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2008 edition of Education Week