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Psychology A2 Wordbank Essay

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Issues and debates in psychology
Determinism VS Free will
  * Determinism is the principle that human behaviour results from either internal (genetic/hormonal) or external (environmental) causes and are not done under conscious control. Under this philosophy, our behaviour is the result of a chain of consequences. Psychologists study human behaviour to find out these causes to explain behaviour and predict future behaviour.
Behaviourists argue that behaviour results from interactions with the external world and the possibility of punishment or reward.
Psychodynamic theorists suggest that unconscious processes are the cause of human behaviour.
Both of these theories are heavily deterministic, as they suggest that all behaviours have an identifiable cause.

  * Free will suggests that human behaviours can be chosen at will (personal choice). This means we decide what we do.
Behaviourists argue that this ‘choice’ is a response that has been learned from interacting with the external environment.
Psychodynamic theorists suggest that these ‘decisions’ are responses to internal unconscious processes.
Believers in free will argue that behaviour does not have a cause and all individuals are free to make choices about their behaviour. The idea of free will is compelling, as most people like to think they have choices rather than being victims of unconscious processes or the external conditions they find themselves in. This idea does provide a problem for psychologists: if free will does exist, what is the point of studying psychology?

Reductionism VS Holism
  * Reductionism argues that all psychologists’ phenomena can be reduced to their simpler, smaller parts and the ultimate goal of research is to identify what these smaller parts may be. Reductionist theorists tend to support deterministic viewpoints as human behaviour is seen to be due to a single factor and once this is known it can be used to explain and predict all human behaviour. The logical...

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