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Determinism Psychology

Human psychology has always been a subject of constant research and discoveries. Read to know about determinism psychology, one of its types.

Determinism Psychology

Human mind is the most complex creation which is still an enigma. The thought process and the behavioral patterns of a person are all controlled by the human mind. In short, we can say that human mind is the key behind every unique personality. The study of the human mind is scientifically termed as psychology. Studies have shown that various types of personalities are a result of different characteristics and emotional quotients. However in this article, we will be dealing with determinism psychology and some of its types.

What is Determinism Psychology?
Albert Einstein couldn't have stated this better - "Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper."

Determinism psychology can be explained as a philosophy which states that whatever happens in the world has a cause and the cause is already pre determined. The inception transitioning into effect is an inevitable phenomenon and cannot be prevented by any means. The theories and predictions in science are a direct result of determinism psychology.


Types of Determinism
Based on philosophy, determinism psychology is of various types. Some of them are:

  • Causal Determinism: This psychology is based on the assumption that there is an antecedent for every event to happen.
  • Logical Determinism: This is the outcome of the notion that whatever is proposed about the past, present or future fall in either of the categories: True or False.
  • Metaphysical Determinism: As per this determinism, every event is caused by necessity and for a reason.
  • Biological Determinism: This thesis is based on the belief that all behavioral patterns and desires are controlled by nature through factors such as genes.
  • Nomological Determinism: As per this psychology, the future events are to some extent propelled by the combination of nature's laws and events factoring the past and present.
  • Psychological Determinism: This is a view that is purely based on rational thinking and human instincts that control our desires.
  • Behavioral Determinism: This ideology is purely based on the reflex actions that have been governed by the environment and surroundings.
  • Environmental Determinism: This psychology is based on the theory that physical conditions of an environment determine the culture of a region. To be precise, every human instinct is controlled by the stimulus response theory.
  • Fatalism: This is a significant determinism psychology that says everything in the universe is governed by fate and there is no control over it.
Apart from the above kinds of determinisms, we are going to discuss a few interesting concepts like reciprocal determinism psychology and free will determinism psychology.

Reciprocal Determinism Psychology
The term reciprocal determinism psychology was first coined by Mr. Albert Bandura, a renowned psychologist from Canada. As per his observations and findings, behaviorism in a man is factored by various measurable variables like environment, upbringing of the person, thought processes etc. These variables can be manipulated to derive different results. By manipulating any of the variables, the effect on the others can be calculated. As discussed in determinism theory, every event is governed by a cause. So here the environment plays a pivotal role in causing a person's behavior. After observing some not-so-normal traits like high levels of aggression in adolescents, Albert Bandura suggested that this theory could be reciprocative in nature as well. According to him a person's behavior could also be responsible in factoring an environment which he termed as the reciprocal determinism psychology. In simple words, a person's behavior and the environment are mutual causes for the effects on each other.

Now take a simple example. There is a family of three - A father, mother and a 6-year-old child. The father and mother always fight with each other and use abusive language to communicate. The child being a quick learner picks up these things and start experimenting his learning on other children at school. If this undesirable trait goes unobserved then there is a possibility that other children might also pick up the habit and try on someone else over a period of time! So, this is one candid example of reciprocal determinism psychology where a person can factor an environment as an environment can factor a person's mental growth.


So, what are the attributes that lead to this reciprocal determinism psychology?

  • Observation: The environment is such that the person pays attention to what is being portrayed to him.
  • Retention: The person remembers what he likes. So he retains the learning.
  • Implementation: The person implements what he has learnt and would find a suitable opportunity to do so.
  • Motivation: There is an ulterior motive behind every act. So the person would implement what he learnt out of some deep motivation which is again factored by the environment.
Free Will Determinism Psychology
This aspect of psychology became famous with the theories of William James, a famous American philosopher. He was the first to propose the concept of free will over determinism. He refuted the theory of determinism by stating that feelings of sorrow and regret arise only when the person believes that he could have done things otherwise. According to him, if determinism stated that every event was predestined to happen then people do not have a reason to emote. His famous statement thereby goes - "What does determinism profess? It professes that those parts of the universe already laid down absolutely appoint and decree what the other parts shall be. The future has no ambiguous possibilities hidden in its womb... the whole is in each and every part, and welds it with the rest into an absolute unity, an iron block, in which there can be no equivocation or shadow of turning."

Let me state an example for this: For instance, you usually get up at 6 AM in the morning. Today you have an important client meeting and you have to give the presentation. For some reason, you got up at 7 AM and missed the subway. You frantically searched for a cab. But due to heavy rains, you just couldn't avail one. After a lot of waiting you catch another subway and reach the place 2 hours late. The presentation is over and it was your rival who preceded it. You lost the chance to procure a business and end up regretting - Why? Why I did not get up at 6 AM as always?


Now as per the determinism theory, the feeling of regret is not permitted as it states time and again those events are already planned in advance. Free will on the contrary is an ability to make choices free of any constraints. This concept is treated void as per the people following the hard determinism psychology, who swear by the theory of determinism. Yet there are people who deny the determinism theory and call them compatibilists. These people offer an explanation that the constraints are also classified on the basis of its relevance. However free will principle covers all the implications from scientific and religious perspectives. For example, in the religious context of free will, the supreme force which we call God does not force an individual to follow the religious doctrines set. Similarly from the ethics perspective, every individual can be held accountable for his actions concerning morality.


Determinism psychology is definitely a complex subject to comprehend. I hope the above information was useful in understanding the deterministic psychology and its theories.
By Narayani KarthikPublished: 6/23/2010

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