Human Behavior

Defense Paper 3


There is a true-to-life expression, Everyone is the maker of his own fate. It shows that ones everyday decisions have a deep influence on a rank of their contentment with life. Personal responsibility is an integrate part of making everyday choices. Thus, an individual is responsible for both positive and negative consequences of his/her choices. All the same, not everybody acknowledges it. From the psychological perspective, people are thirsty for approval and so they are impatient to share their achievements with everyone. Meanwhile, when their decisions lead to unfavorable consequences, people tend to hide these decisions and avoid responsibility for them. These mental peculiarities lead to the appearance of the two opposing sides, determinists and supporters of free will. Determinists think that people do not bear responsibility for their choices, while the other party thinks the opposite way. I advocate the theory of free will as I am convinced that people are entirely responsible for their behavior and life circumstances.

To start with, determinists believe that free will is a kind of illusion that allows humans some functionality. Therefore, people have no choice, act depending on the range of stimuli, and their behavior is very predictable. For instance, behaviorists are supporters of determinism. As they usually state, notions like free will and motivation are dismissed as illusions that disguise the real causes of human behavior (McLeod, 2013). Accordingly, the real causes of human behavior are hidden in the environment. Nevertheless, determinism is incompatible with social ideas of responsibility and self-control, which serve as the basis of human moral obligations. Furthermore, it is itself unproven and even unprovable (Baumeister, 2008).Therefore, a humanistic approach seems to be more appropriate in explanation of human behavior. According to this approach, not all behavior is determined and free will contributes to choices people make in life and implies some responsibility. Therefore, it is not surprising that psychologists Rogers and Maslow consider freedom not only possible but also necessary if we are to become fully functional human beings (as cited in McLeod, 2013). If it is so, human life cannot depend on things such as chance, fate, and other people.

First, one cannot justify all events in their life by pure chance. It implies the equal chances for positive and negative experiences. Nevertheless, it is not quite true. What are the chances one will pass the test without having spent some time for preparation? Likewise, what are the chances a person will not get a lung cancer while smoking every day? Both these examples show that human actions have some consequences. When one puts efforts into some activities, he or she will get proportionate results. The opposite is true as well. When one continues to engage in harmful practices, the results would be negative. Besides, there will be no one else to blame. Therefore, one may conclude that people are entirely responsible for their behavior and life circumstances.

Second, fate also does not relieve somebody of responsibility. Belief in fate can serve as a perfect excuse for being irresponsible for main disasters in ones life. One can always complain that he or she is doomed to unhappiness and troubles. However, it leads to victimization and passiveness. If one is doomed to something, there is not a single chance to change it. Thus, people can desperately stick to unrewarding work, unhealthy relationships, and compulsive behavior. They are convinced they cannot do anything about it because they see their unlucky fate in everything. Nonetheless, such approach only reveals the weak sense of personal control. In cognitive psychology, the alleged level of control is the so-called locus of control. According to Ross and Mirowsky (2013), an idea of an external locus of control is a learned, generalized expectation that outcomes of situations are determined by forces external to ones self. The individual believes that he or she is powerless and at the mercy of the environment. Such belief is highly unproductive because an individual is not likely to look for alternative solutions to his or her problems. As Ross and Mirowsky (2013) state,

a person with a high sense of personal control will likely try other actions if their current repertoire is not working. New behaviors may successfully obtain desired goals, which may in turn increase the personal ability to shape other events and circumstances in life.

Third, other people cannot make all decisions for an individual. The most common excuse for irresponsible people is the phrase, It is not my guilt. Others are to blame. They would blame politicians, neighbors and their relatives for their failures. Moreover, they always know whom to blame first. However, this attitude indicates mental immaturity. Children are likely to say, It was not me to avoid punishment. Adults are expected to behave differently and to be ready to face the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, some people behave selfishly and reject any responsibility for their actions. Such type of behavior usually results in conflicts at the workplace, in the family and in the neighborhood.

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Meanwhile, determinists have substantial data to support their beliefs. In the recent years, scholars have succeeded in decoding human genotype. The more genes they decode, the more likely they are to defend natural inclinations to unhealthy behaviors. For example, scholars from the University of Queensland found that marital infidelity could be put down to genetic interference (Pleasance, 2014). Gradually, scientists will discover genetic predisposition to a range of unhealthy behaviors. They would be able to predict whether the person would be lazy, a pathologic gamer or a boor from the genetic analysis. Nevertheless, the belief in genetic predisposition to unhealthy behaviors justifies them perfectly. If one accepts that behavior is nothing more than a consequence of environment and hereditary factors, it relieves him or her of responsibility. The research of Vohs and Schooler (2008) is one more confirmation to that. The scholars tested the likelihood of cheating depending on the participants trust or distrust to free will. The outcomes of the experiment showed that weakening free-will beliefs reliably increased cheating (Vohs and Schooler, 2008). Thus, the scholars come to the thought, if exposure to deterministic messages increases the likelihood of unethical actions, then identifying approaches for insulating the public against this danger becomes imperative (Vohs and Schooler, 2008). Hence, determinism serves as a great excuse for irresponsibility and masks the truth that people are entirely responsible for their actions.

To conclude, all people want to be happy, and they choose their ways to achieve it. Some of them opt to go with the flaw and are at the mercy of the environment. They hope they will be lucky on some day because of a pure chance or their fate. Their happiness they see as a coincidence of external factors. The determinists expect that other people will make them happy and reject their own responsibility for their life. They find a convenient way of existence. Nevertheless, chance, fate or other people do not determine human life. People are entirely responsible for their behavior and life circumstances. As a result, happiness is a choice of people who are not afraid to bear responsibility for all their decisions.

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