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Article

Freedom and Responsibility Go Together: Personality, Experimental, and Cultural Demonstrations

Journal of Research in Personality. 2018. Vol. 73. No. 1. P. 63-74.

            Although common stereotypes and the OED definition of freedom suggest that freedom and responsibility are incompatible, in three cross-cultural studies, we test the existential psychological premise that freedom and responsibility are actually complementary.  In all three studies, a) measures of dispositional freedom and dispositional responsibility were positively correlated; b) emphasizing freedom in an experimental context increased responsibility-taking after failure; and c) Responsibility-taking was slightly lower in Russia, a country typically ranked lower in world freedom indices.  In Studies 1 and 2 responsibility-taking was more strongly associated with competence and longitudinal goal-attainment in the Russian sample, suggesting that individual responsibility can compensate for freedom-limiting aspects of socio-cultural contexts.  In Study 3 the best predictor of felt free will (especially in the U.S.) was the lay theory belief that “freedom involves taking responsibility for one’s actions.” Supporting a control sensitivity explanation of the socio-cultural differences, a second Study 3 experiment found that Russians were inclined to take more responsibility than Americans, but only when it was requested (not demanded) by family/friends (but not by authorities or by strangers).