Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations.

Qualification: A-Level Psychology
Paper: Issues and options in psychology
Unit: Issues and debates in psychology
Assessment criteria: Free will and determinism: hard determinism and soft determinism; biological, environmental and psychic determinism. The scientific emphasis on causal explanations.

  • Free will = The belief that all humans have complete control over their behaviour and actions.
  • Determinism = The belief that some actions and experiences are predetermined and cannot be changed e.g. death.
  • Environmental determinism = The belief our behaviour is controlled by an external influence e.g. parents.
  • Biological determinism = The belief our behaviour is determined by our biology e.g. genes.
  • Psychic determinism = The belief our unconscious mind and childhood experiences influence our behaviour.
  • Hard determinism = Strong belief we have control over all our actions and behaviours and everything has a cause.
  • Soft determinism = Belief we do have control over our actions, however there choices can be influenced by external factors e.g. stealing because poor.

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