You Didn’t Have to Do That: Belief in Free Will Promotes Gratitude

Michael J. MacKenzie, Kathleen D. Vohs, Roy F. Baumeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Four studies tested the hypothesis that a weaker belief in free will would be related to feeling less gratitude. In Studies 1a and 1b, a trait measure of free will belief was positively correlated with a measure of dispositional gratitude. In Study 2, participants whose free will belief was weakened (vs. unchanged or bolstered) reported feeling less grateful for events in their past. Study 3 used a laboratory induction of gratitude. Participants with an experimentally reduced (vs. increased) belief in free will reported feeling less grateful for the favor. In Study 4, a reduced (vs. increased) belief in free will led to less gratitude in a hypothetical favor scenario. This effect was serially mediated by perceiving the benefactor as having less free will and therefore as being less sincerely motivated. These findings suggest that belief in free will is an important part of being able to feel gratitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1423-1434
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Volume40
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 11 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.

Keywords

  • attribution
  • free will
  • gratitude
  • person perception

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