The extent of human agency and the correlation between freedom and control has always been one of the most curious areas to explore in relation to psychology and the concept of self. When considering the theories of freedom and control, the views of B. F. Skinner and Carl Rogers are, perhaps, as far on the opposite of each other as possible. Indeed, whereas Skinner assumed that people’s behavior is defined by their environment, Rogers posited that the need for self-actualization was the primary source of motivation in people (Feist et al., 2018). Since both theories appear to contribute significantly to the understanding of motivation, it seems that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Indeed, on the one hand, people are capable of controlling the micro-environment in which they function, thus exerting a significant amount of power over it. However, when applied on a larger scale, the range of an individual’s control is typically quite restricted, while macro-environmental factors, including political, economic, sociocultural, and technological ones define the extent of one’s decision-making largely (Feist et al., 2018). Therefore, it seems that, in the current global community, the two theories need to be combined to produce a viable interpretation of the power dynamics between an individual and the community.
However, it appears that, on a smaller scale, people are capable of controlling their actions and making decisions quite freely. Otherwise, ethical and moral dilemmas would not have existed, and people would opt for the choice to which they are conditioned intrinsically. Thus, the variety of choices that an individual can make indicates that the level of control over one’s personal micro-space is quite high (Feist et al., 2018). At the same time, environmental issues may override the role of personal freedoms since constraints on economic, political, and legal levels are likely to produce a greater impact than personal boundaries.
Feist, J., Feist, G.J., & Roberts, T. (2018). Theories of personality (9th). NY: McGraw-Hill.