From the day we are born we become biologically separated from our mother, however, we remain totally dependant upon our mother/carer in order to survive. For many years psychologists have been researching behaviour patterns from birth and still now argue whether behaviours are learned or innate. Innate behaviour is present at birth, developmentally fixed, instinctive and unchanging inherited through genes. This involves reflexes which are automatic responses to specific stimulus. Examples of these reflexes are blinking the eye, swallowing, coughing or producing saliva when eating which protect the body from harm. Nativists believe that many aspects of behaviour are innate, or occur naturally regardless to environmental influences.
On the other side there are empiricists who believe behaviours are learned, the mind begins in a blank state and everything we are all our knowledge is learned. A learned behaviour is not present at birth and can be changed, it is taught for example walking, talking and toilet training. The problem with viewing behaviour as completely innate is that it cant be changed. We are born with certain behavioural characteristics and physiological reflexes which are automatic and stay with us for life for example blinking the eye. A newborn baby possesses certain primitive reflexes which a pediatrician will look for to assess the neurological health of the baby. These reflexes are –
The rooting reflex
The Essay on In your own words, detail the ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments with regard to innate and learned behaviour.
Nativists believe that certain behaviours are innate, that is we are born with them and they cannot be changed. They mainly involve reflexes and instinct e.g. when a bird hatches from its egg it does so instinctively or when a puppy drinks milk from its mother they are not taught to do this. Another example is when a person makes a loud noise in front of a new-born infant they are likely to ...
The moro reflex
The bebinski reflex
The stepping reflex
However, even the healthiest infant will not always demonstrate these reflexes when stimulated. Each child is individual and at times when a child is hungry/tired or unhappy it can be impossible to get them to co-operate at that time. When Binns (1965) studied babies of less than 5 days old, he found clear differences in a babies reaction when they were suddenly disturbed concluding that all children are different and have different reactions to different situations. Macfarlane also conducted an experiment looking at whether a baby could recognise there mother from smell alone. Within the first few days they found that a baby would turn their head towards a strangers breast pad as often as they would there mothers. However, from ten days old they found that a baby could recognise ther mother which could show a learned behaviour. The problem viewing behaviour as entirely learned is that it cant account for intercultural similarities.
There are forms of behaviour that are very similar across all known human culture, suggesting an innate (genetic) behaviour. I myself have children and during there early weeks of life I noticed the rooting and moro reflex in all 3 of them. Genetically they have inherited our eye and hair colour, and as they are growing up I can see some of our mannerisms and personality within them. However, they are all individual, there are clear similarities but they have varying interests and thrive in different areas. For example I am very good at art and spend time drawing and painting. My eldest son too has an interest in art and too very good at it, but has he learned this talent or was he born with the ability to draw and create art work?. There are very few clear cut examples of either innate or learned behaviours. Some proven innate can also be proven a learned behaviour.
Cohen found behaviour such as sucking, which seems innate may actually be learned. He found babies who were crying and were restless for a feed actually became quicker at finding the mothers nipple with practice, concluding that sucking is a learnt behaviour. The nature/nurture debate became a feature within developmental psychology. It looks at whether it is someone’s innate biological nature that influences behavioural patterns, or is it life’s experiences and nurture from social surroundings. There has been a constant debate between scientists who look at the influence environment has on children. This debate has raged for decades and still now they are no closer to ending the debate.
child development By: gilly boy The Importance of Play in a Child's Development The majority of research done by Cognitive Psychologists dealing with human cognition has revealed it to be related to the human imagination. As evident by the fact that many psychologist view the process of thinking as the forming of mental representations and through the manipulation of these imaginative images we ...
Nature – Physical appearance is determined by genetics from our mother and father. Combined they create an individual which determines our height, weight, skin, hair and eye color. Genetics are also believed to contribute to our intelligence as well as birth defects. Nurture – The environment plays a big part in our physical development, culture, nutrition, and medical intervention all contibute to the development of a child. Also lifes experiences good or bad play a big part. If a person achieves something academically, did they do so because its in there genetics to be successful or as a result of an enriched environment?. This is why I feel both nature and nurture create the people we develop into and experiences through our lives create who we are. Our home environment, parents, siblings and outside influences all play a big role in our personality.