Deutsch: Freiheit / Español: Libertad / Português: Liberdade / Français: Liberté / Italiano: Libertà

Freedom in psychology refers to the concept of having autonomy and control over one’s actions and decisions. It encompasses the individual's capacity to choose their own path in life without undue external constraints and to act in accordance with their own values and desires.

Freedom means how we wish to live our lives, express ourselves, and worship. Included also are choices about who we associate with, what we wish to read or write, and how we wish to create or behave.


In psychology, freedom is often explored in relation to human motivation, behavior, and mental health. The feeling of being free to make choices is crucial for psychological well-being and is a core component of various psychological theories. For example, Self-Determination Theory (SDT), developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, emphasizes the role of autonomy as one of the three basic psychological needs (alongside competence and relatedness) that, when satisfied, can enhance overall motivation, performance, and well-being.

The concept of psychological freedom extends beyond the mere ability to choose and includes having the real opportunity to take actions that are congruent with one's authentic self. This type of freedom is associated with personal growth, self-acceptance, and psychological resilience. Conversely, the perception of restricted freedom can lead to feelings of helplessness, confinement, and psychological distress, often manifesting as anxiety or depression.

Application Areas

Freedom is a relevant concept in various psychological fields, including:

  • Clinical psychology: Therapists may work to empower clients, enhancing their sense of autonomy to improve mental health outcomes.
  • Educational psychology: Educators and psychologists work to create learning environments that maximize student autonomy and engagement.
  • Organizational psychology: Studies focus on how autonomy in the workplace impacts employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity.

Well-Known Examples

Key psychological studies and theories that address freedom include:

  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT): This theory asserts that autonomy is essential for fostering intrinsic motivation and psychological well-being.
  • Existential psychology: Philosophers and psychologists like Viktor Frankl have emphasized the importance of finding personal meaning and freedom, even in dire circumstances, as essential for psychological resilience and vitality.

Treatment and Risks

The psychological pursuit of freedom can sometimes lead to conflict, particularly when an individual’s need for autonomy clashes with societal norms or the needs of others. In therapy, this can be addressed through approaches that focus on resolving internal conflicts, enhancing self-awareness, and promoting decisions that align with one's values and needs.

Similar Terms

In psychology, terms related to freedom but differing in nuances might include:

  • Autonomy: Specifically focuses on self-governing and making decisions independently, closely tied to the concept of freedom.
  • Liberation: Often used in therapeutic contexts to describe the process of overcoming psychological limits or constraints.


Articles with 'Freedom' in the title

  • Freedom of Information Act: Freedom of Information Act refers to an act recognizing the public's "right to know" information. This law assures the right of individuals to access their federal records
  • Freedom to withdraw: Freedom to withdraw refers to experimenters' ethical obligation to allow their subjects to discontinue participation in the research project


In the field of psychology, freedom is fundamentally linked to autonomy and the intrinsic motivation to engage in activities that are consistent with one’s self-identity and values. It is a vital aspect of psychological theories that relate to motivation, mental health, and personal development, emphasizing its importance across various domains of psychological practice.


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