From: Irish Times

Why make New Year resolutions if genes and environment decide our behaviour rather than free will?

Irish Times:

THE NEW YEAR is a time for resolutions. You promise to take up jogging, spend more time with friends, do good works or maybe smile a little more frequently. But are you fundamentally deluding yourself into thinking you can change?

A growing body of research suggests that much of our behaviour is determined by either our genes or our environment, leaving little room for personal choice. The age-old notion of “free will” is under attack, boosted by examinations of brain activity during decision-making.

An influential 2007 study, which monitored people’s brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), suggested people became conscious of making a decision only after the relevant neurons had fired into action. Neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes, who asked participants to hit a button with their left or right hand, was able to predict their decisions seven seconds before they were even aware of making them.

Read the whole story: Irish Times

See Roy Baumeister at the 24th APS Annual Convention: Society for the Teaching of Psychology Talk and Invited Symposium


Is our behavior caused or do we have free will? The answer to this question will never be resolved by the sciences because it is a metaphysical question not a scientific one. It is similar to the argument concerning the existance of God. Again, science cannot answer this question.

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