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Study notes

Issues & Debates: Types of Determinism

  • Levels: A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, OCR

Biological determinism refers to the idea that all human behaviour is innate and determined by genes. Research into the human genome provides evidence to support the idea of biological determinism. For example, research has found that a particular gene (IGF2r) is implicated in intelligence (Hill et al., 1999). Furthermore, Chorley et al., (1998) reported a statistically significant association between IQ test scores and the IGF2r gene on chromosome six, suggesting that intelligence is to some extent biologically determined.

Environmental determinism is the view that behaviour is determined or caused by forces outside the individual. Environmental determinism posits that our behaviour is caused by previous experience learned through classical and operant conditioning. For example, Bandura (1961) found that children with violent parents are more likely to become violent parents themselves, as a result of observational learning.

Finally, Psychic determinism, claims that human behaviour is the result of childhood experiences and innate drives (ID, Ego and Superego), as in Freud’s model of psychological development.

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