Making decisions can be difficult, and making a hard decision can up the stress even more. A new study suggests that when we have an especially hard decision to make, we’re more likely to use the belief in fate as a coping mechanism.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that believing that outcomes are out of our control is a coping mechanism to help us live with our decisions.
We’ve had a lot of conversation about free will lately. Many have asked me what value compatibilism brings given how prevalent belief in libertarian free will is. This study is a reminder that libertarian free will isn’t always the issue. Fatalism is at least an equal problem.
Of course, the reality is that most people’s beliefs in this area are an unreflective mishmash, changing by circumstance. Sometimes they believe in free will, often when judging others, and other times in fatalism, often when feeling overwhelmed by a difficult choice.
Which is worse, a belief in fate or a belief in libertarian free will? Personally, I think both views can lead to poor decisions. That we are often the victims of circumstance but also often have ability to influence those circumstances, is a nuanced view that can be hard to communicate.