Determinism refers to the belief, philosophical though or idea that everything that occurs does so because of known or knowable causes and that if these causes were known in advance, an event could be predicted with complete accuracy. Also, if the causes of an event were known, the event could be prevented by preventing its causes. Thus, the knowledge of an event's causes allows the prediction and control of the event. Moreover, Determinism refers to the idea that all behavior has prior causes that would completely explain one's choices and actions if all such causes were known; doctrine that all events, physical, behavioral, and mental are determined by knowable and testable individual and environmental factors.


Determinism in psychology refers to the belief that all human behaviors are determined by external or internal forces beyond our control. This perspective suggests that individuals do not have free will and that their actions are the result of various factors such as genetics, environment, upbringing, and past experiences. Determinism stands in contrast to the idea of free will, which proposes that individuals have the power to make choices independent of these influences. Psychologists who adhere to determinism argue that human behavior can be predicted and understood by examining these underlying causes. This concept has sparked debates in the field of psychology regarding the extent to which individuals are truly in control of their actions.

Application Areas

  • Clinical psychology
  • Behavioral psychology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Social psychology

Treatment and Risks

  • One potential risk of determinism in psychology is the potential for individuals to feel powerless or resigned to their circumstances.
  • Treatments that focus on empowering individuals to recognize and challenge these deterministic forces can help promote a sense of agency and control.


  • An individual's predisposition to anxiety disorders due to their genetic makeup.
  • A child's aggressive behavior stemming from exposure to violence in their environment.
  • An adult's fear of public speaking resulting from a traumatic past experience.

Similar Concepts and Synonyms

  • Environmental determinism
  • Biological determinism
  • Genetic determinism
  • Psychological determinism


Overall, determinism in psychology posits that human behavior is influenced by a variety of external and internal factors, leading to the belief that individuals do not possess true free will. This perspective has significant implications for how psychologists understand and approach mental health issues, as well as how individuals perceive their own actions and choices.