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This is the argument that we do not have much control over our actions but are controlled by factors such as our biology or genes, or by the way we are brought up. A consequence of this is that determinists believe that we are mainly passive responders to our past or biology and that we have no free will.

Determinists therefore believe that is possible to predict behaviour by identifying the cause of behaviour.


Although most psychologists believe in some form of determinism, many argue that hard determinism is too extreme. They argue that humans do not always act involuntary and have some control over their behaviour. This argument is known as soft determinism.

A further argument is that humans have free will. The argument is that we have the freedom to act as we want at all times. Psychologists who support the idea of free will, believe that the determinist argument is de-humanising as it treats people as if they were machines.

However, much of the research you will come across whilst studying psychology does not support the view that behaviour is unpredictable. It is possible to identify behaviour patterns which, to some extent, do seem predictable.