Attitudes Toward Punishment in Relation to Beliefs in Free Will and Determinism

Wayne Viney, David A. Waldman, Jacqueline Barchilon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


An experiment was conducted to investigate attitudes toward punishment in relation to beliefs in free will and determinism. College students responded to two questionnaires; one designed to assess attitudes toward punishment and one designed to assess strength of belief in free will or determinism. It was found that subjects who scored higher in belief in determinism recommended more punitive measures for behavioral deviations than those who scored higher in belief in free will. A possible explanation for these results emphasized the burdensome moral responsibility which punishment may represent to those who believe in free will. Such responsibility would demand that punishment be administered with scrupulous attention to fairness and justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-949
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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