Biological Determinism Genetic Determinism

What is biological determinism? Biological determinism, also known as genetic determinism, is a theory that our genes and genetic makeup determine every aspect of our being and of our personality.

Most people believe that a person’s environment, social factors and other factors from the environment influence a person’s likes, dislikes and other preferences. However, those who advocate biological determinism believe that all of these things are predetermined and that environment and social factors cannot influence or change them.

According to biological determinism, everything from music tastes to predisposition to commit crimes like murder is laid out in our genetic makeup. Customs, education, expectations and all other variables are not considered.

Social Determinism

Social determinism is the opposite of biological or genetic determinism. This concept asserts that social and environmental factors determine a person’s characteristics and traits.

Biological determinism has not been proven. Scientists and researchers disagree on how much a person’s genetics and environment contribute to characteristics, personality and other traits. Many researchers believe that both genetics and other environmental factors contribute to characteristics, preferences and traits.

Types of Genetic Determinism

There are different levels and theories of genetic determinism. Each asserts a different proportion of influence on personality and traits for genetics vs. environment.

Some of the most well-known types of genetic determinism include:

  • Genetic Fixity: Genes determine characteristics, but environment and even chance can also come into play and can help shape who a person is and will become.
  • Innate Capacity: People will all end up with similar abilities and characteristics in a similar environment but in an enriched environment will end up with individual differences.
  • Statistical Variation: All differences between individuals can be divided into genetic or environmental differences, but genetics are more influential.

This is simply a synopsis of the theories. More details are constantly being researched on genetic determinism.

Nature vs. Nurture Intelligence

Nature vs. nurture refers to the ongoing argument surrounding the influences of genetic and environmental factors on a person’s development. Nature advocates believe that genetics determine a person’s characteristics, while nurture advocates believe that a person’s environmental factors determine characteristics and traits.

This debate has been going on for many years. Some research suggests that rather than personality and traits being determined by either nature or nurture principles, they are actually determined by a combination of the two.

Biological Approach to Free Will and Determinism

A biological approach to free will and determinism suggests that even our actions and what we decide to do in everyday life are predetermined by genetics.

Serial killers: Is it nature or nurture? This question has been exhaustively examined by researchers for years. If genetics determine our personality and actions, many wonder what leads people to lives of crime and hate.

Those who study biological determinism search for answers to many questions like this and seek to find a link between genetics and:

  • addiction
  • intelligence
  • mental illness
  • obesity
  • risky behavior
  • sexual preference.


Personality Research (1998). Genetic Determinism. Retrieved January 7, 2008, from the Personality Research Web site: