Free Choice

  • Davood Gozli


This chapter addresses experimental research on “free-choice” responses. A free-choice response, in this approach, is operationally defined as the arbitrary selection of one response from multiple alternatives, contrasted with a “forced-choice” response, which is defined as the selection of one correct response given unambiguous rules and stimuli. I argue, first, that by defining actions and decisions, in advance, as free, we are left with a limited range of research questions (“Can free-choice actions be influenced?” “Why do free-choice actions take more time?”), answers to which are to a large extent pre-determined by our operational definitions and experimental procedures. Second, the operational definition of free-choice response, in these experiments, is grounded in a particular philosophical view of freedom that is based on detachment, withdrawal, and negation; which is by no means the only way (or the best way) to think about human freedom. Third, in practice, experimental research does not even meet the requirements of its own conception of free choice. In practice, free-choice responses are quasi-forced-choice actions, subject to standards of evaluation and inclusion. Empirical findings ought to be considered in light of these limitations.


Experimental psychology Free choice Forced choice Autonomy Intention Stimulus-based response Intention-based response Volition Randomness Normativity Participation Construct validity 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Davood Gozli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MacauTaipaMacao

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