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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam

The Freedom to Choose

Alternative title: Frihet til å velge (Norwegian)

Awarded: NOK 12.5 mill.

Project Number:

325134

Application Type:

Project Period:

2022 - 2028

Location:

Subject Fields:

The ideal that people should be free to choose and be held responsible for the choices they make is fundamental in the modern world. Indeed, considerations of individual freedom and personal responsibility figure prominently in almost all spheres of society, from policy debates to everyday life. The project “Freedom to choose” (FREE) creates a unique platform for interdisciplinary experimental research on perceptions of free choice and how concerns for the freedom to choose affects behaviour and policy attitudes. Importantly, FREE will exploit scientific synergies between economics and psychology, both in terms of research methods and theoretical perspectives. By combining the complementary strengths of the two disciplines, the overall objective of FREE is to provide novel insights into perceptions of free choice and shed light on attitudes to redistributive policies and government regulations. FREE consists of three work packages. The first work-package, WP1: Perceptions of free choice, will study what people in the general population view as a free choice and when they hold others personally responsible for their choices. The second work-package, WP2: Freedom versus fairness, will study how considerations of freedom and personal responsibility affect the willingness to accept inequality and attitudes to redistributive policies. This research will provide a comprehensive analysis of how the ideal that people should be free to pursue their own idea of the good life, such as helping their loved ones more than strangers, shapes distributive behaviour and personal views on redistributive policy. The third work-package, WP3: Paternalism and economic choices, will examine how concerns for the freedom to choose is traded off against concerns for individual welfare, and how this trade-off affects the support for paternalistic interventions in society.

FREE consists of three work packages. The first work-package, WP1: Perceptions of free choice, provides ground-breaking studies of what people in the general population view as a free choice and when they holdothers personally responsible for their choices. This work-package includes a combination of survey experiments and incentivized behavioral experiments, designed to establish under what conditions people are viewed as having the freedom to choose and the implications of these perceptions for the attributions of personal responsibility. The second work-package, WP2: Freedom versus fairness, involves ambitious studies of how considerations of freedom and personal responsibility affect the willingness to accept inequality and attitudes to redistributive policies. In Western societies, there is an inherent tension between the liberal ideal that individuals should have the freedom to pursue their own idea of the good life and the egalitarian ideal that inequalities due to luck are unfair and should be eliminated. This work package will provide a comprehensive analysis of how the ideal that people should be free to pursue their own idea of the good life - and help those they care about - shapes individual distributive behaviour and its implications for redistributive policies. The third work-package, WP3: Paternalism and economic choices, introduces a truly novel approach to research on paternalism. FREE will use survey’s experiments and incentivized behavioral experiments to study how concerns for the freedom to choose is traded off against concerns for individual welfare and how this trade-off affects the support for paternalistic interventions in society. FREE will conduct a global study across 80 countries to shed new light on the striking differences in attitudes to inequality and paternalistic policies across the world.

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam