The Psychology of Freedom

The concept of freedom is a central component of the American identity. Surveys find that the vast majority of Americans believe having freedom is essential to achieving the American dream. And yet, there are also reasons to believe that social, cultural, and technological changes are impacting how people view freedom and related concepts. Our team recently launched a new major project to study the psychology of freedom. Here are just some of the many questions we are exploring.

How do Americans define freedom? Do they generally think about freedom in the same way or do people differ in how they conceptualize freedom based on psychological, social, economic, and political variables?

Existential psychology may have important implications for understanding how people think about freedom. Does the extent to which people view themselves as psychologically free (belief in free will and agency) influence broader views about social and economic freedom? Do perceptions of meaning in life and related self-regulatory behaviors influence views about freedom?

We are also exploring how the psychology of freedom influences life on college campuses. Among college students, how do views about freedom, politics, and social issues relate to attitudes about free speech and censorship on campus?

Publications coming soon.