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*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

24 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
Early online date13 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Projects of Philosophy and Social Sciences Research of Yunnan Province ( QN2014012 ), the Philosophy and Social Sciences Innovation Team of Yunnan Province ( 2017cx09 ), the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 71601136 ) and the MOE (Ministry of Education in China) Project of Humanity and Social Science foundation ( 16YJC630005 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


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


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