To what extent can I determine my own destiny Essays

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‘To what extent can I determine my own destiny?’ Discuss in the light of theories, ideas and research encountered in the course.

Do I act as I do through choice or are my actions influenced by factors beyond our control? This uncertainty has concerned psychologists for decades, consequently giving rise to the 'Autonomy versus Determinism' debate. By definition, autonomy is the belief that we are free to make decisions and thus control all of our actions, however determinism contradicts this view by suggesting that all of our actions are entirely determined by the external and internal forces operating on them. Nowadays It is now commonly documented by most psychologists that it is a combination of both autonomy and determinism that
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(Stevens3 1996:169) The Langer and Rodin study (1976) (Lalljee 1996:121) based in an American nursing home shows the difference between two groups of elderly residents, those that were given the chance to be autonomous were found that being in control made a critical difference to their well-being and longevity. However the residents that believed their well-being was reliant on the nursing staff were found to be less happy and their mortality rate was higher. This highlights the fact that to have a happy life no matter what age we need to be autonomous.

Those in favour of determinism believe that behaviour is the product of internal or external forces over which we have no control. As a result, human behaviour is arranged and therefore determined. This idea is similar to that of scientific methods e.g. experiments. In an experiment we have the ability to manipulate the variables, according to determinism all behaviour is causal, by this we sense that the determinist feels we have the opportunity of controlling all human behaviour.

Supporting the determinist view is the biological approach, according to biological social psychologists our behaviour is solely determined by our biological systems, they argue that we are genetically determined. Cox and Klinger 1988 (Toates 1996:55)
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