A deterministic worldview promotes approval of state paternalism

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The proper limit to paternalist regulation of citizens' private lives is a recurring theme in political theory and ethics. In the present study, we examine the role of beliefs about free will and determinism in attitudes toward libertarian versus paternalist policies. Throughout five studies we find that a scientific deterministic worldview reduces opposition toward paternalist policies, independent of the putative influence of political ideology. We suggest that exposure to scientific explanations for patterns in human behavior challenges the notion of personal autonomy and, in turn, undermines libertarian arguments against state paternalism appealing to autonomy and personal choice. © 2016 Elsevier Inc.