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Forums > Social Discussion > Instinctive behaviour and Learnt behaviour

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monserat
SILVER Member since Apr 2006

monserat

My flabber is gasted
Location: waaaay south of heaven, United...

Total posts: 737
Posted:This is a discussion I was having with a friend of mine over the weekend. His argument was that there is no such thing as instinctive behaviour and that all behaviour is learnt ie you learn not to put your hand in a fire by getting burnt, while my argument was that learnt behaviour over time and evolution becomes instinctive so how can you learn something you do automatically such as holding your breath when you find yourself underwater.

Just interested to see what the thoughts of others are. smile


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Pulling your hand away from fire is instinctive. You do it faster than you can think.

That one is a an out and out example. But there often isn't a clear dichotomy between learned and instinctive behaviours. In many cases you are predisposed to being able to learn something.


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mcp
PLATINUM Member since May 2003

mcp

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Posted:newborn babies can breath underwater... so not so automatic...

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted: Written by: mcp



newborn babies can breath underwater... so not so automatic...



Erm...I thinks you meant to say they can swim underwater.



But then I've never tested them.


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monserat
SILVER Member since Apr 2006

monserat

My flabber is gasted
Location: waaaay south of heaven, United...

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Posted:I think there is a lot of overlap between the two and something you learn can become instinctive if you repeat it often enough, but surely there are some actions that are pure instinct? staying with babies, a newborn doesn't 'learn' to breathe when its born, it just does.

and playing devil's advocate a little, is learning itself instinctive behaviour?? wink


Chaos is the natural state of the universe

Some days I'm the pigeon, some days I'm the statue.

honourary militant margerine ninJAH

If it wasn't for displacement activity I wouldn't get half as much done

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NOn


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Posted:what if there was just reactive behaviour - don't we behave in reaction to outside influence. uh.. what i'm trying to say is that generally if you hold your hand over a fire, it will be hot, so hot, that it becomes unpleasant, now if you're not enjoying the sensation, why on earth should you keep it there? I don't think this is instinctive or learnt necessarily, just a simple reaction to an unpleasant situation that our body is not built to handle....

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nonenonenone
SILVER Member since Jan 2006

nonenonenone

member
Location: none, United Kingdom

Total posts: 129
Posted:may be along the wrong lines here but this strikes me as being very similar to the nature/nurture debate in psychology.



personally i think its a mixture of both instinctive behaviour and learnt behaviour. there are reflexes that babies are born with (so im told) like sucking and grabbing or things like breathing, but behaviour such as walking and talking, surely that is learnt?!


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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

Total posts: 4145
Posted:pulling your hands AWAY from fire? Who'd do something as silly as that? ubblol

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Patriarch917
SILVER Member since Oct 2005

Patriarch917

I make my own people.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Total posts: 607
Posted:I have some babies around the house. My tests indicate that from birth they will instinctively suck things that come near their mouth, grab things that touch their palm, and try to stiffen their legs when you hold them as if they were standing.

They seem to be instinctively afraid of falling, and loud noises. They also instinctively cry when they are uncomfortable. These things do not seem to have to be learned, but are present from birth.

Of course, some of these things may have been "learned" in the womb. For example, a fetus will grab things, suck their thumb, and kick around in the womb. A baby is not a blank slate at birth, it already knows it's mother's voice, and has been practicing many behaviors.

As far as breathing, a baby will "breath" the fluid inside the womb. I am inclined to call it instinctive, because it seems so automatic. However, I know that babies are usually encouraged to cry right after birth in order to get them to start breathing well. I suspect that since breathing is something we can control pretty well, it is a blend of instinctive and learned behavior.

My wife also insists that all babies can count to 2, since they seem to know when they haven't fed from both sides. smile


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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted: Written by:

I have some babies around the house. My tests indicate that from birth they will instinctively suck things that come near their mouth, grab things that touch their palm, and try to stiffen their legs when you hold them as if they were standing.


And they'll extend their arms if startled, wiggle their butts if suspended the right way and stroked up the back, make eye contact with people after about 1 week of age, and they do breathe on their own usually even without much stimulation although sometimes they need a bit of a jolt to initiate the reflex.

ALL neurolgically normal human beings will withdraw from a sudden unexpected painful stimulus. ALL neurologically normal human beings wince in response to an unexpected painful stimulus. For that matter, the hip thrusts done by men during sex are essentially the same among all men.

But the ultimate proof that behavior is partially genetic is this: Would you rather leave your child with a golden retriever or a pit bull? Yes, SOME pit bulls are gentle and loving and SOME golden retrievers are berserk, but these breeds have well-earned reputations for being respectively gentle, loving, and loyal and violent and unpredictable. This is because the behaviors are partially genetic in nature and these dogs were bred for certain behaviors. And cats are usually more stand-offish than dogs, even though they are not necessarily raised around other cats.

There are so many behavioral parallels between identical twins even when raised apart that it's hard to swallow that behavior is purely learned. ESPECIALLY when there is rather concrete evidence (infantile reflexes) to the contrary.


-Mike )'(
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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Study Reveals: Babies are Stupid.



[From The Onion or course!]


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faery em
BRONZE Member since May 2002

fae
Location: London, United Kingdom

Total posts: 259
Posted:Well I just came on hop to wind down from my developmental psychology revision for mondays exam...

Piaget would have said that babies are purely sensoriomotor blank slates, and that everything is learnt through perception and...

Baillergeon would say that we are born with innate learning mechanisms...

No. I can't! Must switch off.

Basically a lot of behaviour can be descirbed with learning theories, but there are some things that no-one can really explain through learning. So as always it comes down to "a bit of both"


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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:No! There can be only one!

wink

Ahhh... yes Piaget again.

I think it's interesting also to look at the implications of both nature and nurture. Which can be controlled? Which can be affected? And with today's medical advances in affecting 'nature' who determines what we 'really' are and what are being affected by controlable biolgical influences.


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ickleMatt


ickleMatt

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Posted:The only way to test nature versus nurture is to take two genetically similar people who had no pervious contact and different lives.

I am living proof that learning is based in nature as well as nurture. Me and my half brother grew up completely separately (I knew he existed but knew absolutely nothing about him, he didn't even know he had a half brother) and the first time we meet was at a British Juggling convention! We had both learnt, and become obsessed with, juggling completely independent.

Sure this could be circumstantial, but I am sure that tests have been conducted on twins separated at birth that back this up.

Although we both had to learn to juggle but was this learning instictive? Sure juggling is a cultural phenomenon; but I have met kids, not been exposed to the culture of juggling, who have learnt to juggle in 5 minutes!

Is it instinctive to try to catch something thrown at you?


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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

Mr Majestik

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Posted: Written by: ickleMatt


Is it instinctive to try to catch something thrown at you?



well it beats being hit in the face.


"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

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Tabt


Tabt

I Doubt, Therefore I Might Be
Location: Horsham

Total posts: 1007
Posted:i think that breathing, and being shocked by loud noises and withdrawing from pain and fire are all the body's methods of survival. its instinct because it has to be to continue being alive.

personally i think the diathesis stress model is the most accurate, to sum it up it says we are blank slates but with certain traits, those traits can only be 'unlocked' from certain triggers or stresses. e.g. you would only discover a brilliant talent for juggling if you were introduced to it. this is why so many labour or skilled professions run in families.

take every oppertunity you can and embrace it! you never know what might be triggered in your brain!

another interesting 'instinct' is involved with fight or flight. these days the stresses and stimuli that we are exposed to isnt physical, (in the shape of a giant sabre tooth tiger or scaly dinosaur) its involved with work, deadlines pressures to succeed. yet when we are faced with stress or are nervous we still feel 'butterflies' in our tummies, or need to go to the loo a lot. this is your body preparing you to weigh less if you need to run. you get a major dose of adrenalin so you are able to keep on running or fighting. (which is very bad for you if you dont burn it off)


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:From a plaque in my grandfather's house:

Every child is a blank slate, but every slate has a different surface.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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Tabt


Tabt

I Doubt, Therefore I Might Be
Location: Horsham

Total posts: 1007
Posted:i like it. very profound. smile

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted: Written by: ickleMatt


The only way to test nature versus nurture is to take two genetically similar people who had no pervious contact and different lives.




Only if you COMPARED it to two genetically DIFFERENT people who had no previous contact and different lives.

Otherwise you end up with "See, both twins like nutella." When, in fact, everyone likes nutella. wink


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Tabt


Tabt

I Doubt, Therefore I Might Be
Location: Horsham

Total posts: 1007
Posted:they have done tests like that using anorexia and bulimia

i can't remember the exact results (and i cant be bothered to look them up) but the tests show that identical twins are more likely to both develop eating disorders than than a pair of siblings or a pair of bizygotic twins (not from the same egg). they did the tests with the children raised together and raised apart.

the identical twins were more likely to both develop a disorder even if they werent raised under the same stimuli. so maybe it IS something that is in built.


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will_uk
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

member
Location: UK

Total posts: 83
Posted: Written by: faery em


Basically a lot of behaviour can be descirbed with learning theories, but there are some things that no-one can really explain through learning. So as always it comes down to "a bit of both"



Well put.

Nothing in the human brain or manifest in our behaviour is *ever* reducible to a single factor. Nature, nurture and pure chance will all play significant roles in shaping behaviour - to deny such a multiplicity of causal factors is to commit what is known as the 'reductionists fallacy'...

Brains are fascinating things...

Will


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firespiral


firespiral

member
Location: Sunny Coast, Qld

Total posts: 21
Posted:aaaahhh .. the classic nature / nurture debate .. reminds me of uni ubbloco


 Written by: Doc Lightning

... make eye contact with people after about 1 week of age ...



my bubba made eye contact with her daddy within a minute of being born. held his gaze for a good 15 seconds too .. we were in awe!!


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Art is a way of life.

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