If you want to answer the question and skip the back story, click here.
Scientific American recently published an article about free will and morality. Previously, I’ve written about studies that demonstrate that not all of our apparent choices are free and how that impacts morality.
Furthermore, there was an extended discussion about how free will is the cause of some evil in the world. Well, this new study turns that idea on its head. They demonstrate that determinism may cause immoral behavior! That is, at least belief in determinism correlates with small-scale cheating.
Basically, a group of research subjects were asked to read an anti-free will text (the control group read text from the same publication that makes no mention of free will) and then take an computer-based arithmetic test. The trick was that the test enables the subject to cheat. Moreover, it required the subject to take an action (press the space bar) to prevent the answer from appearing prematurely on the screen. The subjects failed to press the space bar more often than the control group. Furthermore, the frequency of cheats correlated to the extent to which the individual believed in determinism.