Háskóli Íslands

Problems with a belief in Free Will: a critical assessment of recent psychological research from a cross-cultural perspective

Fimmtudaginn 14. mars kl. 12 heldur Renatas Berniūnas fyrirlestur á vegum Heimspekistofnunar og Félagsvísindastofnunar í Árnagarði 101

Problems with a belief in Free Will: a critical assessment of recent psychological research from a cross-cultural perspective

The lecture will be based on the ongoing interdisciplinary research project “Between choice and determinism: cultural variations in experiencing and conceptualizing free will, luck, and randomness”, conducted at Vilnius University. Dr. Berniūnas will discuss some methodological issues in contemporary psychology research. In particular, how sampling bias - i.e., samples drawn mainly from WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) people - resulted in a curious image of human psychology and behavior that can’t be easily generalized to the rest of the world. It is seldom the case that Western psychologists unreflectively draw universalistic conclusions based solely on WEIRD samples. More specifically, the sampling bias will be illustrated with recent psychological research on belief in free will. Moreover, the methodology employed in such research is problematic as well: item bias, normative and cultural assumptions make it hard to apply it to other cultural and linguistic contexts. Overall, the lecture will critically assess recent psychological research on “belief in free will” from a more cross-cultural perspective. It should be of interest to students and scholars from philosophy, psychology, Asian studies, and anthropology.

Dr. Renatas Berniūnas received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen's University, UK. Currently he works at the Institute of Psychology and Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies, Vilnius University. He is also head of a newly established Cognitive Science Center. Dr. Berniūnas does research in Cognitive Science (broadly construed). In particular, Cognitive Science of Religion, Moral Psychology and Cognitive Anthropology (conducted fieldwork in Mongolia). Also, he is currently involved in 'Experimental Philosophy' projects and various cross-cultural projects on the psychology of morals, religion and free will.

 

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