The -for and Against Argument with Regards to Innate and Learned Behaviour.

1147 words 5 pages
Q.1 In your own words, detail the -for and against argument with regards to innate and learned behaviour. Feel free to include your own opinion, but be sure to justify it. Try to include an equal amount of information for the both sides. Use at least 500 words for your answer.
For many years psychologists have been researching behaviour patterns from birth. This is where the ‘Nature’ vs ‘Nurture’ debate begins. Nativists believe that humans are born with various skills needed to survive, where as Empircist believe that humans acquire all or almost of all their behavioural traits from "nurture".
Some behaviours are innate, unlearned and instinctive. From the moment we are born there are instinctive motions that we do. An example of this
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An investigation undertaken by Spitz clearly supported Ahrens statement. He watched a group of babies from 0-20days olds to 6-12 months and how they smile/ responded to strangers. He found that 98% of babies aged 2-6 months happily smiled at strangers, but only 3% of babies aged 6-12 months smiled at strangers. [ref1]
Watson (as well as other theorist), did not believe that abilities, personalities or behaviour had much to do with inheritance or instinct. Such things were completely determined by learning experience. The mechanism for this is the ‘stimulus- response’. [ref2]
Later Skinner applied Watson’s principles to control both animal and human behaviour in programmed learning, as well as behaviour modification. An example of this is the ‘rat in a box pushing the lever for a food pellet experiment’. Even though it was not evident at first, the rat quickly learnt the relationship between pushing the lever and receiving food. [ref3]
Working as a teaching assistant in my local junior school, means that I work with many children having a variation of behaviours. Some of these children are particularly disruptive within the classroom, as a result they are put on a reward system (very much like the skinner experiment with the rat). The children are set individual daily targets by the classroom teacher. The aim of the reward system is to show the children that improved classroom behaviour is