Innate Learned Behavior

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The debate regarding innate behaviour and learned behaviour is one which has caused great discussions amongst psychologists and often polarises opinions. At the crux of the argument lies the issue as to whether humans are born with certain characteristics or behaviours, or whether these are learned; hence the common phrasing the nature/nurture debate. There are two types of behaviour: innate, and learned. Innate behaviour is instinctive, natural behaviour that is present at birth. There is certainly evidence to suggest that some behaviours are innate. Examples of innate behaviour include natural reflexes such as the moro reflex. When a newborn baby experiences a loud or sudden movement their arms automatically extend out and then come back …show more content…

In its very nature learned behaviour can be temporary, as it responds to external factors so as these change and develop, so can the behaviour. For example, a baby who has experienced neglect in early life will have certain learned behaviours as a result of these circumstances. The baby may not cry as much as she should, as she will have learnt that crying often doesn’t yield results and so will conserve that energy instead. If that baby were to be removed from the situation and placed in a loving, nurturingenvironment her behaviours would (slowly and cautiously) begin to change. She would sub-consciously or consciously realise that the external factors of life had changed and therefore learn that crying out for her caregiver will result in a response and her needs will be met. Empiricists’ argument grows even stronger as babies grow up and develop into children with obvious preferences and opinions. A child whose mother has always said ‘yuck, fish’ whenever anyone around her eats fish, will almost certainly feel the same way and not eat fish. This pattern of behaviour is clearly …show more content…

An example of this might be to look at a set of twins. This provides a good context as both children would have grown up in the same environments and usually have had similar ‘nurture’. Yet, often there are profound differences in character between twins, with one usually being the dominant twin. If nature had no role how does this happen? The problem with this argument lies in how strictly we believe they have had exactly the same external experiences. Were there factors that affected the parent’s behaviour towards the twins? Was one twin bigger at birth while the small one struggled? Do parents treat them differently because of this? Perhaps the twins are of different genders; do the parents with or without realising it behave differently towards the boy or the

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