The freedom to persist: Belief in free will predicts perseverance for long-term goals among Chinese adolescents

Jingguang Li, Yajun Zhao, Li Lin, Jing Chen, Song Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing evidence supports the importance of perseverance for long-term goals in predicting personal success. However, less is known about factors that cause individual differences in perseverance. We tested the role of a specific philosophical belief among laypersons – the belief in free will – in predicting perseverance among two Chinese adolescent cohorts attending high school. In Study 1 (N = 1262), self-reported belief in free will was associated with stronger perseverance for long-term goals, as measured by the Grit-S scale. In Study 2 (N = 710), we first successfully replicated the association between self-reported belief in free will and perseverance. Then, we categorized the participants into free will believers and determinism believers by a two-alternative forced choice philosophical question regarding the existence of free will. Free will believers scored higher in perseverance than did determinism believers. Taken together, our study implied that the belief in free will is one crucial predictor of perseverance for long-term goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-10
Number of pages4
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018


  • Belief in free will
  • Grit
  • Long-term goal
  • Perseverance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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