I'm aware of numerous experiments, like Stanford prison experiment, Milgram experiment which indicate that humans can act in ways opposite to their best intentions.

For the purposes of this question, let's define Free Will as ability to act and strive without external coercion. Ability to accomplish my goals and ambitions. In this context Free Will suddenly seems a lot like motivation.

Found these quotes:

Likewise, compatibilists define free will as freedom to act according to one's determined motives without hindrance from other individuals

This makes me ask - Is Free Will related or is just another word for a more modern concept of "motivation"?


To want, to feel, and to think, also known as conation, emotion, and cognition are the three basic categories that psychology is traditionally concerned with. The term conation as far as I know is rather outdated (see Winch, 1909), whereas motivation is the newer term for the "drive to act".

As usual within psychology, the term "conation" is not used consistently. However, even when motivation and conation are given distinct meanings, the terms are still closely related to each other (e.g. Reitan & Wolfson, 2000).

To sum up, the concept of (free) will is a subcategory of motivation/conation whereas sibling categories are interest or desire.


Reitan, R. M., & Wolfson, D. (2000). Conation: A Neglected Aspect of Neuropsychological Functioning. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 15(5), 443–453. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0887-6177(99)00043-8

Winch, W. H. (1909). Conation and Mental Activity. II. The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, 6(19), 505–514. https://doi.org/10.2307/2012061


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.