Understanding The Relation Between Free Will And Work Satisfaction


To what extent do you value free will in work? Even if people are not willing to give a second thought on this, free will matters in professional well being. A new research released in the Personality and Social Psychology bulletin emphasizes the importance of free will and work satisfaction – irrespective of the type of job and geographical location.

The concept of ‘free will’ is not a mere psychological potion, but it is related to a wide range of cognitive and behavioral reactions. Enjoying a certain level of freedom definitely gives more elbow room to develop one’s skills and innovations, ultimately giving the job satisfaction that a person is always looking for.

The growing belief in free will and work satisfaction:


That a unique relationship between work satisfaction and free will exists is supported by a number of studies. The researchers from the Maastricht University in the Hong Kong and the Netherlands set out for a daunting task to see whether this apparent tie between the two varies with culture, time, and nature of the job.

They deeply studied the data of hundreds of Hong Kong’s real estate agents and US freelancers on two occasions, along with the data compiled by social scientists studying human beliefs for 18 years that comprised 14,000 participants from 16 countries.

In the first study involving 250 Hong Kong real estate agents, a high job satisfaction level was revealed as the agents expressed their freedom as “in charge of their own actions even when the life’s situations are difficult”. Their other statements also carried the same feeling along with the accomplishments achieved. The study with the same group was carried again 3 months later. On both occasions, the subjects displayed a strong correlation between free will and work satisfaction.

In another study, American freelancers enlisted on Amazon’s online job marketplace also reaffirmed the relationship between work satisfaction and free will. This was a paid survey after all and the participants were not confined to one particular job or a fixed boss. They had their own level of working flexibility; but feeling “autonomous” and “free” played a great role in making job choices that gave them high satisfaction, which persisted over time.

A global study also supported the role of free will in job satisfaction:


The most expansive global study, involving 14000 participants as mentioned earlier, also gave similar results. Participation came from a wide range of professionals, and the survey was done on both individual and national level. Aggregating the individual data based on their nationality, the researchers could well correlate the belief in free will and work satisfaction.

In Mexico, free will was found to be highly valued across the nation and firmly correlated it with greater job satisfaction. While in Japan, where free will was not highly prized, the link between the sense of freedom and job satisfaction was found to be not strong enough.

Free will increases role-breadth self-efficacy:


If you are enjoying your work, you do exercise your free will to some extent. That is very important to extract the maximum level of work satisfaction. Free will improves your emotional state and builds confidence.

It increases the role-breadth efficacy of the person who can undertake a variety of tasks beyond his/her job specification and execute them successfully. A belief in free will drives in more honesty and responsibility with increased ability to learn from the mistakes, enabling in better decision making.

Free will reprograms neural activity:


Actions out of free will are built up subconsciously in the brain and reprogram the neural activity on a long-term basis. Exercising free will builds strong synapses which changes the brain’s information processing architecture, guiding the future mental events.

If you are always in the driver’s seat with the desired level of freedom, seldom you will come across the feeling of helplessness. You derive a deeper sense of satisfaction as you have the choice to do what really matters.

A belief in free will improves your cognition. The more you develop this, the smarter you are in decision making. The crux of the matter is if you desire job satisfaction, believe in your free will.

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