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What does this say about free will?

In my counseling course, and behavior modification course I took last semester, I learned that...

1) Behavior is defined as anything you do or say.


2) All behavior is learned.

So everything you do or say is a learned behavior. From choosing the red car over the white one, to saying yes to that man, and no to this one, or even picking pancakes over waffles for breakfast. Everything you do, everyday of your life is the result of something you learned in the past, and what you do tomorrow will be a result of what you learned today. That means that the concept of free will is only an illusion.

Answer Question

Asked by my2.5boys at 3:52 PM on Jan. 18, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 17 (4,394 Credits)
Answers (18)
  • Now THAT is interesting...I like that explanation.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:54 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • Im a psych major and later in other courses you will learn that is the theory of nature vs nature which has been disproved. Everything we do is learned because of the society we live in but part of psychotherapy is also to break cycles which means you can unlearn what is normal to you. Someone raised in an abusive home is likely to be in one or be an abuser. Thats however placing peope in boxes saying we dont have the ability to learn from our mistakes. We all have free will.

    Answer by gemgem at 3:56 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • My husband and I were having a conversation about this earlier this morning. We came to the conclusion that while behavior is and can be learned you still have a choice. For example, I have seen in some cases where two children where abused throughout their childhood. One child goes on to be a doctor while the other chooses to do nothing with their life except be a drug addict. Both of the children lived in the same house, both were abused but each one had a choice in how they would deal with it. One chose to overcome it and one chose to let it control them.


    Answer by JeremysMom at 3:57 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • As someone who took a lot of psychology and philosophy classes in college, this question intrigues me. But I don't believe that free will is an illusion, or that all behavior is learned. For example, the choice one makes about what to have for breakfast is not solely dependent upon what someone has learned - some people hate pancakes because the taste bothers them, and taste preferences are based upon learned AND genetic factors (some peoples' tastebuds are shaped differently than others, thus changing the way they interpret taste). This can apply to lots of things. I agree that much of behavior is learned, but definitely not ALL of it. A person may have a pre-disposition toward a certain choice, but their free will determines whether they follow through with it or not.

    Answer by Iskkra at 4:01 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • LOL - how far along are you to getting your psych degree? There's far more to it than that, sweetie.

    No, free will is not an illusion. It is a choice. There are those who believe in destiny and karma. They choose to go along with the river of life, and do not attempt to change anything. Then there are those who believe they can "change their stars", and act to bring about that change.

    Answer by Redteux at 4:02 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • Who me? I have one math class and graduate. I will have my degree in march as soon as I finish my algebra class.

    Answer by gemgem at 4:03 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • A person may have a pre-disposition toward a certain choice, but their free will determines whether they follow through with it or not.

    I believe this to be true for homosexuality as well. 


    Answer by ReneeK3 at 4:04 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • Not necessarily so to the OP. I have learned over a long period of time to choose foods that are not good for my health and weight. However, when I diet, I use my "free will" to override that learned behavior and make better choices. So, Even though I may have learned to love and choose choc. chip pancakes for breakfast, I now choose oatmeal and blue berries because it is better for me. I am not destined to forever behave in a certain way just because I learned that behavior and made it a habit. I have the free will to break free from that habit and behave in a different way.


    Answer by BlessedMommy64 at 4:06 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • You learn a lot of things from your parents and your surroundings. But you always have the free will to not do what you have learned.

    Answer by louise2 at 4:10 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • It might be bcause you learned something but you are still choosing... maybe I picked the waffles over the pancakes because I learned that pancakes are mushy and waffles are crunky?

    Answer by dtetz at 4:11 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

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