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Discussion

Discuss about the Free Will and Environmental Influence.

Free Will refers to the ability of choosing between the different courses of the action. It is found that it is linked to concept pertaining to responsibility, praise and sin. It shows connection with different concepts like advice, persuasion and deliberation. There are some people who conceive of free will to be the capacity of making choices in which the result is not determined by that of past events. The social learning theory of Bandura suggests that people learn by observing one another and with the help of imitation (Thyer, 2017). It states that by the observation of people one can form an idea regarding how the new behaviours can be performed and at a later stage this kind of coded information can help in serving as a guide. This essay elaborates on whether an individual can influence his own course of action in life or whether the external forces that are outside of our control helps in the determination of our behaviour. The essay points out that interaction of facets within the individual along with that of environment helps in building up the personality of an individual.

There are many people in the world who believe in the notion that whatever is happening in their life has already been planned for them. These people can mostly be termed as religious people who believe in God and think that the course of our life are determined to a great extent by this supreme power. They believe that whatever happens in the life of an individual has been laid out by God. There are others who harbour the idea that the incidents happening is on account of the influence of past life. Unfinished business along with karma account for the incidents that take place in the life of an individual. The external forces that is beyond the control of an individual determine the course of life of a person (Murtonen, Gruber & Lehtinen, 2017) There are some religious people who believe that they have free will to a certain extent. God can control the actions of an individual but the decision as to whether the individual should go in one direction or that of the other is on the basis of the will of an individual.

There are some scientists who believe that the brain of an individual is fluid and it responds to everything that are experienced in our life. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions in life but the existence of a supreme power who controls the actions of our life is a possibility. Free will harps on the idea that we can control most of our choices in life and we are free to a great extent of thinking and deciding on our own (Omomia & Omomia, 2014). The decisions of the human beings are independent of the influence of any other external power and an individual is imbued with the ability of controlling the goals along with choices. All the actions of human being the influence of outside forces would make the life of human beings bleak. Planning, morality along with social responsibility will become inconsequential in such a case. Free will highlights the fact that the actions in the life of human being are self-determined and they are not subject to forces outside their control (Bergson, 2014). Free will is indicative of the ability of choosing and acting on the basis of one’s own will.

Behaviorism and Environmental Influence


Behaviourism is a psychological approach that lays emphasis on the objective methods pertaining to investigation. This approach deals with the aspect of stimulus-response behaviour and it suggests that behaviours can be learned with the help of interaction with environment. Behaviourism lays stress on environmental factors that can influence the behaviour of an individual. Skinner recognized the role that was played by internal mental event. Behaviourism assumes that the learner is like a clean slate and the shaping of behaviour can be done with the help of positive or that of negative reinforcement (Dennett, 2015). Behaviourism stresses on the belief that behaviour can be reshaped by taking recourse to reinforcement. The desired behaviour being rewarded can play a positive role in encouraging the individual to adopt this kind of behaviour pattern. The undesired behaviour being punished on the other hand plays a role in curbing the bad habits of an individual. The behaviourism lays stress on the fact that environment can play a pivotal role in shaping the life of an individual (Alquist et al., 2015). The kind of people with whom an individual interacts plays a dominant role in building up the future of an individual. This theory thus helps in suggesting that the life of a human being is propelled with the help of external forces who act upon him and brings about desirable or undesirable changes in the behaviour.


The behaviourists believed in the idea that learning occurred on account of direct experience with that of the environment. The social learning theory of bandura added a social concept that argued that people are able to acquire new information by observing other people. The social learning theory suggests that learning would become very laborious if people had to depend solely on his own action. According to this theory, the mental state of an individual along with motivation plays an important role in determination of the behaviour (Shariff et al., 2014).  Bandura focused on the fact that reinforcement need not necessarily come from that of outside forces. Environmental reinforcement cannot be considered to be the only factor that can influence learning in relation to an individual. Intrinsic reinforcement according to Bandura can take the form of reward that is internal like pride along with satisfaction. There is a notion that one learns when he exhibits any kind of new behaviour. There are certain times when the learning is not obvious but learning does take place. Attention, retention and reproduction are the three important factors that can help in the process of observational learning of an individual (Miller, 2016)

Social Learning Theory of Bandura

The social learning theory of Maslow lays emphasis on the aspect of motivational needs and human beings continuous try to fulfil the needs. Maslow has highlighted on the fact that fulfilment can arise from within the individual ( Feldman & Chandrashekar, 2017). The lower order needs can come from that of external support. There are some people who fail to reach their complete potential in life on account of certain circumstances. They spend a large amount of time along with energy in meeting the basis need and hence they cannot exhibit themselves to the fullest extent. This shows how crucial the circumstances in the life of a person can be in deciding about the course of action of a person.


The behaviour of a person can be determined with the help of environmental factors along with the individual factors. The external forces play a great role in shaping the life of the individuals in society. The family, society along with that of the community with whom an individual interacts play a great role in influencing an individual to a great extent. The individual has certain innate characteristics and these factors can also influence the life of an individual. The individual factors that has a bearing on the life of an individual relates to intellectual abilities, physical abilities along with self-awareness abilities (Monroe, Dillon & Malle, 2014). The intelligence of a person can prove to be an important factor that has an influence on his entire life and can prove to be a crucial reason for his failure or success in life. These traits of an individual can help in defining the behaviour of a person in both social along with personal life. The particular manner in which an individual address a particular situation is dominated by many factors like abilities, gender, race, perception and attitude (Clark et al., 2014).  There are certain traits that a person is gifted with since his birth and these factors are determinant of the course of life of a person.

Free will endows an individual with the ability of choosing a certain course of action from that of different kinds of alternatives. Concept pertaining to free will is closely bound up with the concept pertaining to moral responsibility. The success of an individual in relation to a certain action is dependent on certain factors that are beyond the control of an individual. External constraints are always there that has an influence on the particular option that people choose in life. This goes on to show that an individual living within the confines of the society has to abide by many kinds of external factors that determines the life course of an individual. The personal factors of an individual like the qualities that a person is born with also play a dominant role in relation to the actions of an individual (Thibaut, 2017).  Studies have provided with strong evidence regarding the fact that our actions are underway even before the agent wants to do it. There are huge range of studies that have highlighted the fact that the governing of human actions on the basis of individual will can be held as an illusion. The different kinds of forces within the environment along with that of the individual forces play a dominant role in deciding course of life of an individual.

Conclusion:

There are many individuals who believe that the actions of a person are on account of unforeseen forces. There are others who believe in the fact that the events that take place are owing to some kind of past event. Free will lays stress on the fact that the path that the human beings choose are on account of his own will and he can control his future. The social environment around a person along with the facets present in an individual play a dominant role in charting the course of life of a person.

References:

Alquist, J. L., Ainsworth, S. E., Baumeister, R. F., Daly, M., & Stillman, T. F. (2015). The making of might-have-beens: Effects of free will belief on counterfactual thinking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(2), 268-283.

Bergson, H. (2014). Time and free will: An essay on the immediate data of consciousness. Routledge.

Clark, C. J., Luguri, J. B., Ditto, P. H., Knobe, J., Shariff, A. F., & Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Free to punish: A motivated account of free will belief. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(4), 501.

Dennett, D. C. (2015). Elbow room: The varieties of free will worth wanting. MIT Press.

Feldman, G., & Chandrashekar, S. P. (2017). Laypersons’ beliefs and intuitions about free will and determinism: New insights linking the social psychology and experimental philosophy paradigms. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1948550617713254.

Miller, A. G. (Ed.). (2016). The social psychology of good and evil. Guilford Publications.

Monroe, A. E., Dillon, K. D., & Malle, B. F. (2014). Bringing free will down to Earth: People’s psychological concept of free will and its role in moral judgment. Consciousness and cognition, 27, 100-108.

Murtonen, M., Gruber, H., & Lehtinen, E. (2017). The return of behaviourist epistemology: A review of learning outcomes studies. Educational Research Review, 22, 114-128.

Omomia, O. A., & Omomia, T. A. (2014). Relevance of Skinner’s Theory of Reinforcement on Effective School Evaluaution and Management. European Journal of Psychological Studies, (4), 174-180.

Shariff, A. F., Greene, J. D., Karremans, J. C., Luguri, J. B., Clark, C. J., Schooler, J. W., ... & Vohs, K. D. (2014). Free will and punishment: A mechanistic view of human nature reduces retribution. Psychological science, 25(8), 1563-1570.

Thibaut, J. W. (2017). The social psychology of groups. Routledge.

Thyer, B. A. (2017). Social learning theory: Empirical applications to culturally diverse practice. In Human behavior theory (pp. 133-146). Routledge.

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