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1. LT2: Freewill & Determinism Determinism - The determinist approach proposes that all behaviour is determined and thus predictable. Some approaches in psychology…
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  • 1. LT2: Freewill & Determinism Determinism - The determinist approach proposes that all behaviour is determined and thus predictable. Some approaches in psychology see the source of this determinism as being outside the individual, a position known as environmental determinism. eg. Bandura showed that children with violent parents will in turn become violent parents through observation and imitation. Others see it from coming inside i.e., in the form of unconscious motivation or genetic determinism – biological determinism. E.g., high IQ has been related to the IGF2R gene (Chorney et a,., 1998). Free will - The idea that we are able to have some choice in how we act is fundamental to most common-sense theories of psychology. Free will assumes that we are free to choose our behaviour, in other words we are self determined eg. people can make a free choice as to whether to commit a crime or not (unless they are a child or they are insane). Also, a person is responsible for their own actions, eg. a person needs to find their own route to personal growth and self- actualisation (Maslow). It does not mean that behaviour is random, but we are free from the causal influences of past events. Arguments FOR Freewill Counterarguments (or arguments AGAINST Freewill) 1. The Psychological argument: 1. Despite this subjective sense of having free will, it has proved to be a difficult concept to define, and also difficult to see how behaviour is not predictable to some extent. ‘People have a subjective sense of free will’ – Most people feel that they Unfortunately, there is no proof of having freewill. We may think we are free because the causes of our behaviour (e.g., unconscious forces, genetic factors) are hidden possess freewill and are able, at any time, to make free choices. Dr. from us. Nor is this a position that can be tested scientifically (unfalsifiable). th Johnson, in the 18 century, said ‘We know our will is free, and there’s How can you assess whether you would take a particular course of action unless you took it? More specifically, free will may be a culturally relative concept. Western an end on ‘t’. culture is individualistic, whereas some non-western cultures are collectivist with a sense of ‘we-ness’ and lack of self-determination. For example, Nadler (1993) compared immigrants to Israel, one group from the US (individualistic) and one from the Soviet Union (collectivist). Those from the Soviet Union were more likely to seek help, and the US immigrants less likely to do so. Therefore those in the collectivist society do not think in terms of ‘I’ but in terms of ‘we’ and therefore have a lack of a 2. The Ethical argument: If an individual’s behaviour is determined by forces beyond the sense of freewill and are determined by their social norms. individual’s control, then the individual cannot be help responsible for their actions. The basis of moral responsibility is that individuals are 2. Most psychological theories or moral development present moral thinking and behaviour as being determined by internal and/or external forces. Both Piaget and Kohlberg suggested that moral development was biologically determined. The behaviourist view is that we behave ‘morally’ because otherwise we are punished; i.e., responsible for their own actions, i.e., can exercise free will. The law states that children and those who are mentally ill do not have this moral behaviour is determined by punishment (or not). If this were true, there would be no need for a concept of moral responsibility, as suggested by the free will responsibility but otherwise there is the assumption in our society that argument. If an individual behaved in an anti-social way, it would not, according to this view, matter whether or not they were responsible; they should still be punished to ‘normal’ adult behaviour is self-determined. In other words, humans are prevent it happening again. However, Humanistic psychologists believe that behaviour is governed by conscious decisions which have some regularity. Heather (1976) responsible for their actions, regardless of innate factors or early resolved this contradiction by suggesting that much of behaviour is predictable, though not inevitable; individuals are free to chose their behaviour but this is usually within experiences. a familiar limited repertoire. 3. Difficulty in specifying free will: 3. From a materialist perspective, we may gain insight into the location The notion of free will implies that there is something doing the ‘willing’, something that is mental rather than physical. Besides trying to establish what might do the of free will by considering mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia willing, there is s further question of how mental states might interact with physical states – in other words, how it is that thinking about moving one’s foot results in the where patients lack voluntary control or the ability to initiate activity. nervous and muscular activity required. ‘Materialists’ believe that only physical states exist, whereas ‘dualists’ believe that there are separate mental and physical states. 4. Modern science no longer upholds the view that the world is predictable; it is best described as ‘probabilistic’ (Dennett, 2003). 4. Inconsistency with science: Heisenberg’s ‘Uncertainty Principle’ (1927) suggests that particles can Events being determined by something in the past is fundamental to scientific psychology. We might argue that discovering the determinants of behaviour is the ultimate no longer be predicted. Thus, if scientists cannot predict particle goal of psychology, e.g., the event has been caused by a past event. Thus, in psychology we measure behaviour before and after an experiment to explore cause/effect movement, then human behaviour cannot be predicted. relationships. However, if human behaviour is governed by free will, then there is no causality to be discovered. 1.Discuss the value of a reductionist approach to psychological theory and/or research (30 marks) 2. a) Explain what is meant by ‘reductionism’ in psychology (5 marks) b) With reference to two or more areas of psychology, discuss difference examples of reductionism (25 marks) 3. Describe and evaluate arguments for reductionist explanations in psychology (30 marks) 4. Describe and evaluate arguments against reductionist explanations in psychology (30 marks)
  • 2. LT2: Freewill & Determinism Arguments FOR Determinism Counterarguments (or arguments AGAINST Determinism) 1. Science’s lack of success: Psychological research which may have discovered cause and effect relationships in the laboratory may 1. Success of science in investigating human behaviour: Scientific investigations of human behaviour have produced valid knowledge which can be applied to the not be applied to the real world and thus lacked ecological validity. For example, Loftus carried out research in the laboratory where she real world. E.g., research into stress and the immune system have shown the link between physical and looked at leading questions, and changing the verbs in sentences. However, the results were unreliable! Yuille and Cutshall carried out psychological factors intertwining can affect an individual. similar research yet found reliable results in real life situations. 2. Predictability of people’s behaviour: 2. Are people unpredictable? Mischel’s theory of personality proposed that people do not have a consistent personality, which would challenge the claim that personality is predictable. He claimed that people’s behaviour varies from one situation to another. E.g., you The psychological world, like the physical world is predictable. People believe in their own predictability of might be shy in class, but when you’re with your friends you can be loud and outgoing. However, Fleeson (2001) supports the view that others. We know ourselves to be mean with money and expect to behave in a similar way in the future. Or if someone has previously been generous they will be generous in the future. people are consistent across situations, thus supporting the notion of causality in human behaviour and determinism. 3. Skinner (1971) argued that freedom is an illusion. We may think we have freewill but the probability of 3. How do we reconcile this moral responsibility? People who commit crimes can argue that their behaviour was beyond their control. any behaviour occurring is determined by past experiences. Skinner claimed that free will was an illusion Lawyers have tried to use genetic determinism as a defence argument. E.g., in 1995 Stephen Mobley was accused of shooting a pizza – we think we are free, but this is because we are not aware of how our behaviour is determined by restraint manager. His lawyer produced evidence that Mobley’s antisocial behaviour was inherited because many family members had shown similar tendencies (Brunner, 1993). Mobley was convicted nevertheless. However, we do accept ‘diminished responsibility’ as reinforcement. Freud also thought that free will was an illusion, because he felt that the causes of our behaviour is unconscious and still predictable. However, Valentine (1982) claims that this subjective an explanation for such crimes, as in the case of the Moors murderer Ian Brady. sense of freewill is a tenable proposition. It is something that can be studied and thus shown to be true. E.g., attitudes towards free will have been found to increase with age and are also more common in 4. Research into the human genome project is producing increasing evidence of genetic causes of behaviour. However, it is doubtful individualistic cultures where personal responsibility receives greater emphasis. that there will ever be 100% genetic determinism for any behaviour. For example, twin studies which have been used to look at concordance rates never show 100% concordance rate between MZ twins and thus there has been be an element of nature and nurture influencing behaviour. For example, Holland’s research into biological explanations of anorexia only found a 56% concordance rate in 4. Research into the human genome project is producing increasing evidence of genetic influences on behaviour. For example, a high IQ may be related to the IGF2R gene (Chorney et al. 1998). Also, For MZ twins and only a 7% concordance rate in DZ twins. example Zubenko et al (2002) recently identified a ‘susceptibility’ gene for depression. This seems to be gender specific, explaining women’s vulnerability to developing depression. 5. Determinism is not falsifiable:Theories should generate hypotheses that can be tested to see if there are true or false. If this is not possible, then you cannot ‘prove’ a theory’s validity. The question of whether all behaviour can be explained within a determinist 5. Valentine (1982) suggests that in fact determinism is falsifiable because it has been falsified by the framework receives the reply that as yet is not possible. uncertainty principle! Thus the proof that determinism is not true demonstrates that at least it can be falsified. 6. It may be that psychology is not a science. Even if it were a science, Dennett (2003) argues that, in the physical sciences, it is now accepted that there is no such thing as total determinism. Chaos theory proposes that very small alterations in initial conditions can result in major changes – the butterfly effect’ (One small change may lead to a series of unpredictable events). Therefore, the world is 6. Scientific research is based on the belief that events have a cause and an effect. If we do not take a determinist view, this rules out psychological research into explaining causes of behaviour. This also probabilistic rather than deterministic. means that, at a personal level, it does not make sense to try and predict behaviour. This view suggests that the human world is totally unpredictable –which is contrary to most people’s experiences. In conclusion the deterministic approach is valuable because it has lead to beneficial practical applications such as behaviour therapy and drug therapy – and will soon lead to genetic modification of faulty genes. However, it is a very pessimistic approach, because it suggests one cannot change. The free-will approach, on the other hand, is optimistic as it suggests one can change for the better. Most psychologists now accept that the real debate is about how much of human behaviour is due to free will and how much is due to determinism. This is called SOFT DETERMINISM, and it suggests that biological and environmental factors determine behaviour, but there is an element of free will involved as well – but the question remains – how much of each is involved? Research for Freewill Evaluation Humanistic approach: the humanistic approach embraces free will. Roger’s (1959) proposed a personality theory based on the concepts of self-determination (free will) and self actualisation.  One strength of the Humanistic 1.Discuss the value of a reductionist approach to psychological theory and/or research (30 marks) 2. a) Explain what is meant by ‘reductionism’ in psychology (5 marks) b) With reference to two or more areas of psychology, discuss difference examples of reductionism (25 marks) 3. Describe and evaluate arguments for reductionist explanations in psychology (30 marks) 4. Describe and evaluate arguments against reductionist explanations in psychology (30 marks)
  • 3. LT2: Freewill & Determinism He suggested that taking responsibility for oneself is the route to healthy self development. Individuals who remain controlled by other people or other things cannot take responsibility for their theory is that it is supported by behaviour so cannot begin to change it. Only when an individual takes self-responsibility is personal growth possible, resulting in psychological health. research into stress. The harmful effects of stress are reduced if a E.g., Jahoda’s view of ideal mental health suggests that abnormal behaviour occurs because individuals do not fulfil their full potential. Thus, he stated that human behaviour is driven by person feels in control of events biological needs, but once these have been satisfied, other needs such as self actualisation become important. around them. For example, Kim et al. (1997) found that children who E.g., Carl Rogers’s client-centred therapy (counselling) saw the therapist as a facilitator for the client to help them make sense of their current situation and future. This allowed the client to felt in control showed fewer signs of develop a sense of control over their future and to decide what is best for themselves. stress when their parents divorced. This suggests that healthy psychological development depends on owning your behaviour. Research for Determinism Evaluation 1. The biological approach: takes the view that behaviour is determined by internal, biological systems. This is physiological/biological 1. One strength of the biological approach is that it takes on the nature approach, determinism. Up to a point biological determinism is a valid argument. Clearly, biological factors provide explanations of behaviour, but not a which is supported by scientific, causal research. This allows predictions to be made complete picture. The biological approach consist of brain structures and neurotransmitters. from a controlled laboratory environment where there is control over the IV and DV. This suggests that causal relationships can be achieved using scientific methods to The General Adaptation Syndrome for example, proposes that humans respond to stressors in 3 stages as a result of hormonal secretions. This test the biological approach. implies that the stress response is determined at a purely biological level. This may be applicable to animals, but humans have self awareness  A weakness of the biological approach is that it is reductionist. For example, and involve their cognitions when responding to a stressor (e.g. I'd better get out of here!). anorexia cannot solely be caused by faulty genes (HTR1D) or low levels of serotonin, Evidence has also shown that no complex behaviour can be explained solely by biological factors. The diathesis stress model of mental disorder there are to be other factors such as free will involved. This suggests that the explains this by showing that biological factors set a vulnerability, but it is the interaction of this predisposition with environmental factors which biological approach is oversimplistic when considering behaviour. can trigger the disorder. 2.  One strength of the behaviourist approach is that it has practical applications. For 2. Environmental determinism: the behavioural approach proposes that all behaviour is learned and can be explained solely in terms of example, the assumptions of behaviourist have been applied to treat abnormal external (environmental) factors. Skinner said that freedom was an illusion, because we are unaware of the environmental causes of behaviour. behaviour, e.g., systematic desensitisation and token economy. This suggests that using the behaviourist principles to reduce the behaviour down to a stimulus response then practitioners can improve the quality of people’s lives. E.g., According to behaviourists, attachment is determined by classical and operant conditioning. With the former, the person feeding an infant comes to produce a conditioned response (pleasure) through being associated with food (an unconditioned stimulus). With the latter, the person  One weakness of behaviourist explanations is that they are reductionist. They feeding the infant becomes a secondary reinforcer because s/he is supplying food, which is in turn a primary reinforcer, reducing an unpleasant hunger drive and thus rewarding. reduce complex behaviour to a series of stimulus-response units that respond to reinforcement. This explanation may be suitable for non-human animal behaviour, but The idea of environmental determinism is shown in the behaviourist explanation of anorexia, which proposes that body image is shaped by the is not relevant to humans, which have the ability to have some freewill over their media. A person is then positively reinforced for losing weight. Mischel however, suggested a reciprocal deterministic view. This proposes that behaviour. This suggests that the behaviourist is oversimplistic. the interaction between the individual and the environment is important, as people are both a product and a producer of their environment. An individual selects their social environment due to personal characteristics. This choice determines who the individual spends time with, and 3.  A weakness of Freud’s theory is that it is difficult to falsify (prove wrong). We do which behaviours are reinforced. So learned behaviour is to some extent regulated by choice. not have a way of demonstrating that Freud’s interpretation of a dream is correct. This 3. Psychic determinism: the psychoanalytic approach suggests that adult behaviour or personality is predetermined by events in early means that the interpretations made by Freud and others are subjective and childhood. This is because the causes of our behaviour are psychological and not free chosen. Freud, like Skinner, believed that free will was methodologically flawed (particularly lacking validity). an illusion. Freud believed this was because the actual causes of our behaviour are unconscious and therefore hidden from us. However,  A second weakness of Freud’s theory is that it is reductionist. This is because Freud did believe that people do have the potential for free-will. Freud believed that all dreams are ‘fulfilments of wishes’ and hence overestimated the Dreaming: according to Freud, dreams are determined by unfulfilled wishes. The id has irrational, instinct-driven thoughts that are unacceptable role of sexual factors, but underestimated the role of social factors. This suggests that Freud’s theory is oversimplistic when trying to
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