The Association Between Free Will Beliefs and Stereotypes: People’s Belief in Fatalism Promotes Gender Stereotypes


The problem of free will has been analyzed by philosophers over the ages. In addition to these analyses, experimental philosophers and social psychologists have recently begun to explore the problem of free will from a different perspective. In specific, they examine what constitutes laypeople’s belief of free will and how these beliefs function in people’s social life. As an example of such attempts, Paulhus & Carey (2011) found that people’s belief regarding free will is composed of free will, scientific determinism, fatalistic determinism, and unpredictability. Furthermore, Zhao and his colleagues proposed and found that if people are induced to disbelieve in free will, they are likely to show stereotypes against out-group (Zhao, Liu, Zhang, Shi, & Huang, 2014). The present study sought to replicate and expand this work by analyzing the relationships between subordinate concepts of free will beliefs (free will, scientific determinism, fatalistic determinism, and unpredictability) and stereotypes. Although previous research has established that greater disbelief in free will is associated with enhanced stereotypes, the empirical evidence in the present study did not confirm this association. Rather, we found the association between belief in fatalism and stereotypes. Specifically, the more people endorsed the belief in fatalism, the more they expressed gender stereotypes. Despite its preliminary character, our findings indicate it is not disbelief in free will but belief in fatalism which causes stereotype in people’s minds. Implications will be discussed with regard to laypeople’s concept of free will and its social functions.

Author Information
Takumi Watanabe, University of Tokyo, Japan
Kaori Karasawa, University of Tokyo, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2015
Stream: Ethics - Ethics and Science

This paper is part of the ACERP2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
Full Paper
View / Download the full paper in a new tab/window

Comments & Feedback

Place a comment using your LinkedIn profile


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress

Share this Research

Posted by James Alexander Gordon