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Front Psychol. 2017 Jan 4;7:2027. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02027. eCollection 2016.

The Freedom to Pursue Happiness: Belief in Free Will Predicts Life Satisfaction and Positive Affect among Chinese Adolescents.

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School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University Shanghai, China.
Department of Radiology, Huaxi Magnetic Resonance Research Center, West China Hospital of Sichuan University Chengdu, China.
College of Sociology and Psychology, Southwest University for Nationalities Chengdu, China.
School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University Xi'an, China.
College of Education, Dali University Dali, China.


A small amount of research has examined the association between the belief in free will and subjective well-being (SWB) among Western laypersons from individualist cultures. However, no study has examined this association among participants from collectivist cultures (e.g., Eastern Asian cultures). Therefore, in this study, we explored this association among two large, independent cohorts of Chinese adolescents (N1 = 1,660; N2 = 639; high school students). The belief in free will was measured by a self-reported questionnaire (Cohorts 1 and 2) and a two-alternative forced choice question regarding the existence of free will (Cohort 2). SWB included cognitive well-being (life satisfaction) and affective well-being (positive and negative affect) in both cohorts. Data analyses indicated that a stronger belief in free will was consistently associated with higher life satisfaction and positive affect in both cohorts. Our investigation provides evidence supporting the cultural generality of the positive effects of believing in free will on SWB.


Chinese; adolescents; belief in free will; life satisfaction; positive affect; subjective well-being

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