Freeing or freezing decisions? Belief in free will and indecisiveness

Michail D. Kokkoris*, Roy F. Baumeister, Ulrich Kühnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Does belief in free will free or freeze decision-making? The existentialist hypothesis, rooted in views of free will as a source of anguish and hesitation, would predict that free will impedes decisions by increasing indecisiveness. In contrast, the evolutionary hypothesis, rooted in views of free will as a driver of effective social functioning, would predict that free will facilitates decisions by reducing indecisiveness. Results of five studies using various measures of indecisiveness (trait) and indecision (state), various operationalizations of free will beliefs (measured and manipulated), and various decision tasks provide support to the evolutionary hypothesis. Belief in free will is consistently associated with lower indecisiveness. However, one boundary condition of this effect is that it is limited to individuals with high self-concept clarity. These findings contribute to the literature on indecisiveness and advance our knowledge about the benefits of belief in free will for decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-61
Number of pages13
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision-making
  • Existentialism
  • Free will
  • Indecisiveness
  • Self-concept clarity


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