I’m sure I’ll live to regret this, but I have the itch to write about free will today. What the heck, it’s Friday, right? I was reading The Desire for Autonomy on one of my favorite blogs, The Creativity Post. In that article, the author, Alex Lickerman, argues that we all like to feel like we are making choices according to our own free will. And I agree with him. I think we all do like that. He also points out that it doesn’t matter whether or not we are actually free in making those choices; it is the feeling of being free that matters. Again, I think he’s probably right.
So part of what I’ve been kicking around for the past little while is what controls feeling free versus feeling controlled? We can probably agree that we like feeling free and we don’t like feeling controlled. But under what sets of circumstances do we feel those things?
After mulling this over, I’d like to propose the following and see what you all think:
1. I think we feel free when our behavior is being subjected to conditions of positive reinforcement. That is, when we are working toward earning, achieving, accessing something that we want.
2. I think we feel controlled when our behavior is being subjected to conditions of either negative reinforcement OR conditions of punishment. So this is when we are working toward avoiding something we don’t want OR someone else is trying to get us to stop doing something.
My point here is that in either case our behavior is under the control of contingencies, but in the former case it feels “good” and in the latter it feels “bad.”
What do you guys think of this proposition? And how might this influence what you do in the classroom? Would students feeling as if they have free will change the classroom environment?
- The Desire For Autonomy (creativitypost.com)
- For the choices you make (transientreflections.com)
- On Free Will (mmmessays.wordpress.com)
- The Paradox of Free Will (wakingtimes.com)
- Under the illusion of free will (npresablog.com)
- Lets try a little positive reinforcement, eh? (townhallblog.blogspot.com)
- Cinemark Tries Positive Reinforcement Approach By Rewarding Non-Texters (slashfilm.com)
- To Reinforce or To Punish? (doodspratac.wordpress.com)