Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Catherine Reed

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Rights Information

© Jessie Huang 2014


Recent studies have shown that different free will beliefs affect moral behavior. The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether different free will beliefs also influence moral judgment. College students (N = 56) were randomly assigned to one of three framing manipulations: free will, determinism, or neutral. They then read three morally questionable scenarios that differed by situational context. Following each scenario, participants completed a moral judgment questionnaire that measured four moral constructs: moral evaluation, moral responsibility, justification, and punishment. Finally, participants completed a Free Will & Determinism Questionnaire (FWD-Q) that measured their lay beliefs in free will and determinism. For analysis, we grouped participants according to their reported FWD-Q scores into one of three groups: free will, determinism, or compatibilism. We found that different free will beliefs influenced moral judgment to a small degree, but not in the ways that we predicted. Our results show that situational context affects moral judgment much more than lay philosophical beliefs regarding free will. Future studies should examine whether this still holds true for older adults with more developed worldviews.