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Addict Res Theory. 2009 Jun 3;17(3):231-235.

Addiction and free will.

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  • 1Department of Marketing, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Whether people believe that they have control over their behaviors is an issue that is centrally involved in definitions of addiction. Our research demonstrates that believing in free will - that is, believing that one has control over one's actions - has societal implications. Experimentally weakening free will beliefs led to cheating, stealing, aggression, and reduced helping. Bolstering free will beliefs did not change participants' behavior relative to a baseline condition, suggesting that most of the time people possess a belief in free will. We encourage a view of addiction that allows people to sustain a belief in free will and to take responsibility for choices and actions.

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