|"WHY SHOULD I CARE?" CHALLENGING FREE WILL ATTENUATES NEURAL REACTION TO ERRORS
Rigoni, D., Pourtois, G., & Brass, M. (2014). 'Why should I care?' Challenging free will attenuates neural reaction to errors. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10, 262-268. Whether human beings have free will or not has been a philosophical question for centuries. The debate about free will has recently entered the public arena through mass media and newspaper articles commenting on scientific findings that leave little to no room for free will. Previous research has shown that encouraging such a deterministic perspective influences behavior, namely by promoting cursory and antisocial behavior. Here we propose that such behavioral changes may, at least partly, stem from a more basic neurocognitive process related to response monitoring, namely a reduced error detection mechanism. Our results show that the Error-Related Negativity, a neural marker of error detection, was reduced in individuals led to disbelieve in free will. This finding shows that reducing the belief in free will has a specific impact on error detection mechanisms. More generally, it suggests that abstract beliefs about intentional control can influence basic and automatic processes related to action control.