• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the Freewill Versus Determinism Debate As It Applies To Psychology.

Extracts from this document...


DISCUSS THE FREEWILL VERSUS DETERMINISM DEBATE AS IT APPLIES TO PSYCHOLOGY Do we choose to act as we do or are our actions a result of influences beyond our control? This question has preoccupied philosophers for centuries, thus giving rise to the 'Freewill versus Determinism' debate. By definition, freewill is the notion that we are free to make decisions and thus control all of our actions however determinism takes the opposing view suggesting that all of our actions are totally determined by the external and internal forces operating on them. It is now widely recognised by most psychologists that it is a combination of both freewill and determinism that determine our behaviour however this leads to another question, 'to what extent is our behaviour determined and to what extent are we free to choose?' The idea that our behaviour is controlled by external factors paints a rather depressing picture of life in which we have no control over any of our actions. As a result, the humanistic approach in psychology completely rejected this idea and instead opted for the idea of freewill. ...read more.


Psychic determinism stresses that we are at the mercy of unconscious forces over which we have no control. Trivial things such as forgetting a dentist's appointment could be due to an unconscious fear of going to the dentist's. Freud believed that freewill was simply an illusion; however he did believe that people may have the potential for freewill as it forms the basis of psychoanalysis. Similarly, the evolutionary approach is also very deterministic arguing that our genes have control over our behaviour as well physiological processes since they have been naturally selected over the generations. However it is not wholly deterministic as it recognizes cultural evolution in humans. The behaviourist approach is also in favour of determinism arguing that human behaviour is determined by learning from the environment and its causes can be explained in terms of environmental stimuli. Skinner, a strong believer in environmental determinism, asserted that in actual fact freewill in human behaviour was merely an illusion because in reality we are all at the mercy of our environment. ...read more.


If indeed humans had freewill over their actions, then psychology would not be a science as behaviour would not be causal and therefore there would be no need for researchers to ascertain the causes of behaviour by measuring the influence of variables. If, on the other hand, behaviour was purely deterministic, then crime would be left unpunished since we would not be held responsible for our actions consequently leading to the deterioration of society. Furthermore, we would feel very helpless as we would be entirely at the mercy of our environments and have no control over our lives and thus question the purpose of creation. It is important to note the fact that it is impossible to design an experiment to find out which is the greater influence in human behaviour, freewill or determinism, and therefore this debate may be more philosophical than it is scientific. In conclusion, many psychologists have realised that it is neither extreme that influences our behaviour; rather it is a combination if the two that governs human behaviour. As a result, they have opted for the position of soft determinism to describe human behaviour most accurately. Fatema Jessa 13DHo ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

Though a fairly prescriptive and predictable essay, this candidate has easily satisfied the demands of the coursework question and whilst might not gain full marks for her efforts, is likely to achieve a high B grade for A Level. The ...

Read full review

Response to the question

Though a fairly prescriptive and predictable essay, this candidate has easily satisfied the demands of the coursework question and whilst might not gain full marks for her efforts, is likely to achieve a high B grade for A Level. The introductory paragraph is ample and describes the free will-determinism debate in Psychology, with specific reference to its role in explaining behaviour (as this debate exists far beyond just psychology, it is good to see this level of clarity and precision has been implemented).

The structure works well for the candidate, as they break up cohesive paragraphs so as to help the reader digest the information easily, and each one discusses to good detail the stance of different approaches and perspectives with regard to the free will-determinism debate in Psychology. I would argue that this prevents the essay from being all that cohesive (save the introductory and conclusive paragraphs, which work perfectly) because of the segregation between each approach and perspective, and this is where the candidate struggles for the A grade - the need for a strong, cohesive essay that flows well is a large one at A Level, and should always be recognised.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is good, and shows the examiner clearly that the candidate has a very good knowledge of both psychology, it's approaches and perspectives and also the major debate concerning free will and deterministic views of behaviour. There is a very wide range of approaches and perspectives address, including more complex new-age practises like the Humanistic approach and Neo-Behaviourism (Socio-Cognitive Learning). There is a deep-set understanding of the birth of each practise and this surplus information would happily substitute for the lack of the Cognitive, Social and Developmental approaches.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication here is very good. The candidate uses a variety of Psychology-orientated terminology with confidence and accuracy, helping to show the examiner they are competent when it comes to discussing debates using the tools that professional psychologists use. From an English perspective the QWC is also very good, allowing for little error in spelling, punctuation and grammar. This candidate has probably proof-read and spell-checked their essay for errors that even computer spell-checkers may miss, and is a good idea for every candidate submitting coursework.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 17/07/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Describe processes for initiating, maintaining, developing and concluding a counselling relation.

    Women's Aid- Women's Aid is the national domestic violence charity that helps over 320,000 women and children every year. They work to end violence against women and children, and co-ordinate and support over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the country.

  2. How does watching television influence the behaviours and cognitions of young children?

    enable the child to form a more stable relationship for the child. It has been noted in many psychology books how a stable relationship with a parent has many positive implications for the child's future development, compared with children who do not have stable or secure relationships with their parents.

  1. Review of Behaviourism

    Skinner died in 1990, two days after being awarded the only Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, by the American Psychological Association. Skinner feels that people are not in control of their behavior that it is purely a consequence of actions taken onto them.

  2. Transfer reps are very important and they manly accompany holidaymakers to and from the ...

    The trade description act affects the holiday rep because they on the front line. And if the tour operator has not had accurate information on the broacher when the guest go on the holiday they complain.

  1. This curriculum plan is to be based on children aged between nought to two ...

    It also helped to show them that baby animals do not always look exactly like the parents e.g. a chick can be yellow or black or with spots while the parent may be brown, or that a duckling can be yellow or black and a duck may be white or brown etc.

  2. "Working conditions were terrible in 19th century Britain." Does the evidence support this view?

    Some people did not just lose limbs in the machines, some lost their lives. Source 15 tells of a boy who lost his life and they found his body mangled in the machine. We can trust the source mainly but it may have been a bit exaggerated.

  1. Autism & Learning Difficulties.

    One major limitation to Bettleheim's study is that although one child in a family may be autistic, their sibling may not be which questions whether the parents are ignoring their children and secondly questions whether autism is environmentally acquired. (Mitchell, 1997) Powell (1999) also agrees that this theory is invalid.

  2. Is Homework Beneficial to Children in Any way?

    They bring to light many important issues surrounding homework that makes the task increasingly difficult to be completed successfully. They say that issues such as parents and pupil's time, money and resources are all reasons that make homework more of a hindrance than a help.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work