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Flashcards in Free Will/Determinism Deck (13)
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Define Free Will?

The ability to make decisions and choose own behaviour freely. Behaviour is under the volition (will) of the individual.


Define Determinism?

belief that all behaviour is caused by internal and external factors that are outside of the individual’s control.


Outline the Free Will/Determinism debate?

One could ask, ‘Could an individual’s behaviour in a given situation have been different if they’d willed it?’ supporters of determinism would say no, advocates for free will would say yes.


Internal and Biological determinism?

What is Internal determinism? Belief that internal biological factors and mental processes cause behaviour.

What is biological determinism? Belief that behaviour is caused by genetic factors and the nervous system.


Internal factors that determine behaviour?

instinctive needs: Whilst we can decide when to eat, drink, and sleep, all are essential to our survival.

Control of different parts of the brain: Language functions are predominantly located in the left hemisphere of the brain. No amount of willing can overcome effects on language following damage to Broca’s area (speech production) or Wernick’s area (understanding of speech).

Hormonal system: 7/30 women whose mother’s took synthetic oestrogen when pregnant reported same-sex or bi-sexual interest, compared to 1/30 in the control group. Sexual preference isn’t the result of free choice.

Genes: Numerous twin studies point towards a genetic disposition to schizophrenia and behaviour.

Evolutionary Forces: The body prepares for either fight or flight. We don’t choose to freeze during an exam.

Capabilities of the human body: We cannot fly or live under water as we have no wings or gills.


What is meant by doubly determined?

The interaction of biological determinism and environmental determinism. For example, an introverted person inherits an over-aroused nervous system. This influences their choice of environment (peace and quiet) which depresses levels of arousal. This is not free will, merely biological factors interacting with the environment.


What is psychic determinism?

Humans are biologically determined by instincts of sex and aggression, childhood experiences, and repressed conflicts from the unconscious. There are no accidents; everything results from unconscious mental processes, and free will is just an illusion.


What is environmental determinism?

Behaviour is determined by external, environmental influences.
Behavioural approach; the result of positive or negative reinforcement, or punishment. Successful conditioning can be achieved through consistent reinforcement and agents of socialisation and doesn't require free will. Free will is merely an illusion caused by inconsistent reinforcement.


Evaluation of determinism?

Compatible with the scientific method and gives psychology credibility as a science, aiming to establish cause and effect.
However, Determinism is unfalsifiable.

Moral responsibility - if behaviour is determined, the individual isn't responsible, meaning there is no need for blame, prison, or punishment. Therefore, many plea that the cause of the committed crime was temporary insanity; hence, determined by their internal state of mind, not free will. Furthermore, in the nazi war trials, many claimed they were only following orders.

Assumes behaviour is a result of what has happened before and causes what will happen next, implying we can predict and control behaviour.
Eg) student predicts that if an essay is handed in late the teacher will call their parents, so they think up a good excuse and partly control the teacher's behaviour. However, there are too many influences to come up with an accurate prediction in the case of human behaviour.


What is soft determinism?

If actions are voluntary and in line with conscious desired goals, they have an element of free will. For example, someone asks you for a lift to the airport, you can say either yes or no, and are exercising free will. If you are helpful and it's convenient, your behaviour is determined by your personality. Therefore, is caused by a generous personality but is still in line with what you want to do.


Evaluation of free will?

As it is an abstract state that doesn't exist in material form, it is difficult to scientifically test. Without an objective way of measuring free will and a precise definition, research is vague and replication is impossible.

It is inconsistent with the assumptions of science as it doesn't emphasise cause and effect. Whilst soft determinism offers causality, the problem of a non physical entity effecting the physical world in the form of behaviour is still a problem.

Most people feel morally responsible for their actions and have a sense of 'I' and 'self', feel like they are making choices.


Does humanism support free will?

Client centred therapies focus on the individual taking charge, and reducing the incongruence between their ideal self and actual self.

Add to this after you've done humanism


Describe the Libet study?

Participants held out their arms and flexed their wrists. Participants were asked to report the decision to flex their wrists using a clock, and electrodes on the wrists measure actual movement. Activity in the brain (using electrodes on the scalp) started half a second before the decision was reported, implying that the wrist flex was the result of brain activity, not a conscious decision.