Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jeffrey D. Green


This multi-study dissertation had four primary aims. My first was to add to the evidence base indicating a positive association between free will belief (FWB) and subjective well-being (SWB). My second aim was to develop a measure to assess the FWB theme referred to as the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP). To achieve the first two aims, I conducted two cross-sectional studies to further establish the FWB-SWB association and start the development and assessment of a new PAP FWB measure. In the first study (N=995), I hypothesized that an EFA of the new PAP items would produce at least a single factor structure and that FWB would be a positive predictor of SWB. Study 1 was successful, the EFA extracted a single PAP factor with 10 items and FWB was shown to positively predict SWB. The second study (N=760) was an exact replication of the first. Study 2 was also successful, replicating the single factor structure for the preliminary 10-item PAP measure as well as the positive association between FWB and SWB. Study 3 was a short-term longitudinal study providing further psychometric assessments of PAPS-10. Study 3 found that the PAPS-10 was temporally stable and distinct for a host of related constructs. The third aim of my project was to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the FWB and SWB relationship. To achieve this, I developed the purpose-imbuing model of FWB. The model posits that the primary function of FWB is to imbue people’s lives with meaning, and by so doing establish adaptive well-being. Finally, and most importantly, the fourth aim of my project was to experimentally test the propose-imbuing model of FWB and determine if the FWB and SWB relationships were causal. For Study 4, I used a 3 (anti-FWB vs. pro-FWB vs. control) X Continuous (meaning in life) between-groups experimental design to manipulate FWB and assess its downstream effects on meaning in life and both eudainomic and hedonic well-being. I hypothesized that a pro-FWB manipulation would result in more adaptive 9 eudainomic and hedonic well-being (compared to a control) due to the manipulation bolstering perceived meaning in life (compared to a control). I also hypothesized that an anti-FWB manipulation would result in less adaptive eudainomic and hedonic well-being (compared to a control) due to the manipulation diminishing perceived meaning in life (compared to a control). All primary hypotheses of Study 4 were confirmed. The results and their implications are discussed in detail.


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