Discussion: Influences of Nature and Nurture on Behavior
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Read Chapter 1 of your course text. Pay particular attention to the section titled, “Nature vs. Nurture.”
- Read Chapter 2 of your course text. Pay particular attention to the section titled, “Sources of Data” and consider the strengths and limitations of the various research methods for studying behavior (e.g., case studies, experimental studies, descriptive studies).
- Go to the Psychology Topics Web page on the APA website page. Choose one topic that interests that you that you could make the case for it having both biological and environmental factors (Note: Not all of the concepts listed on the webpages are suitable for this Discussion. Choose something that will work). Consider ways in which nature influences the behavior, and ways in which nurture influences the behavior. Also, consider which types of research and data collection methods could be utilized for examining your topic.
- If your last name begins with the following letter:
- A–L, then you will be responsible for making a strong case for nature having the greatest influence on the behavioral topic of your choice, and discussing a method for examining the influence of nature on your topic.
- M–Z, then you will be responsible for making a strong case for nurture having the greatest influence on the behavioral topic of your choice, and discussing a method for examining the influence of nurture.
With these thoughts in mind:
- In the subject line of your post, add your assigned side of the debate and your topic (e.g., Nature & Depression) so that your colleagues will be able to determine which posts they are to respond to.
- In the body of your post, a brief description of your topic (fewer than 50 words—similar to the “Addiction Example” presented earlier).
- For the topic, explain one way in which nature influences behavior, and one way in which nurture influences behavior, and provide at least one supporting example for each way.
- Based on your last name assignment, which is the letter M, make the case for why nature, or nurture, has the stronger influence on the behavior. Although there is an interaction among nature and nurture, for the purpose of this Discussion, you are to take a stance on why the one that was assigned to you is more prominent.
- Propose a research method and your rationale for selecting this method, as it relates to how you could study your topic from your assigned nature/nurture perspective. Explain one advantage and one potential disadvantage of the method. Note: You are not required to describe, or go into detail, how an actual study for your topic would be set up or carried out using the method.
Assignment: Learning and Change
Natural selection has produced at least three forms of behavior that have helped species adapt to their environments. First is a type of behavior that is categorized as a modal action pattern (MAP) (also referred to as a fixed action pattern), which is an elicited series of related acts triggered by a specific event (termed a releaser) found in all, or nearly all, members of a species, and has a strong genetic component. Examples of MAPs include a cat hissing and arching its back when threatened, or an opossum “playing dead” to avoid being attacked. The second form of behavior is a general behavior trait which refers to organisms’ tendencies to behave or engage in certain kinds of behaviors. A person’s temperament (e.g., shy, outgoing, aggressive, or impulsive, etc.) is an example of a general behavioral trait.
Third, there are reflexes that have resulted from natural selection. It is important to note that although categorized as a form of behavior, a reflex itself is not a behavior; rather it is the relation between a specific event or stimuli and a particular behavior. For example, exposure to an allergen in the environment (e.g., dust, pollen, molds, etc.) has caused you to sneeze. The reflex is not the sneeze itself, but is the relation between the allergen (the stimuli) and the act of sneezing (the behavior) to clear out the allergen from your nose.
Learning resembles natural selection in that it is a mechanism for adapting to change, however; learning is more rapid than natural selection and helps the individual to survive.
To prepare for this Assignment:
- Review again Chapter 1 in your course text.
- For an enhanced understanding of these concepts, you are encouraged to also explore the Optional Learning Resources for this week, as well search for additional examples online.
- Research online additional examples of animal behavior that fit the category of a modal action pattern (MAP), or general behavioral trait, and consider the limitations of the current environment and/or how the environment could interfere with the process of natural selection.
Here is an example:
In the natural environment, the courtship behavior among betta fish is a MAP. A male betta releases a “bubble nest” to attract a female betta. After mating, the female releases her eggs and the male collects the eggs in his mouth and deposits the eggs into the bubble nest which he then closely guards from predators (other fish). One example of how the current environment could interfere with the process of natural selection is that when kept in captivity as pets, male bettas typically live in solitary confinement in a fish bowl because they are known to fight and kill other fish. As such, a male betta in captivity will still release a bubble nest, but without a female betta to mate with he will not produce any offspring, whereas male bettas not in captivity will produce offspring.
- Create your own example of a reflexive behavior that humans do not presently possess that would helpful or aid in survival. The behavior is hypothetical so you can be creative. Consider the limitations of the current environment and/or how it could interfere with the process of natural selection.
Here is an example to help get you thinking about ideas:
A lifesaving reflex might be awakening from exposure to smoke. Many people die during their sleep as the result of smoke inhalation during house fires. If smoke triggered a reflex that caused people to awaken, fewer would die. Geographic location would be an example of how the environment could interfere with the process of natural selection. People who live in areas where it is cold outside may use wood-burning fireplaces in their homes to help keep warm at night, and may gradually adapt to the exposure to smoke. The lifesaving reflex would dissipate over time, and when fires occurred in the home at night people would not wake up. Over time, people in the colder climates would mate and have children who did not possess the reflex. Whereas, people who live in warmer climates would continue to have offspring with the reflex that would wake them up when exposed to smoke.
The Assignment (1–2 pages):
Complete the following:
- Provide one example from your online research of a modal action pattern (MAP), or general behavioral trait, for a nonhuman animal species that is not in the Learning Resources assigned for this week.
- Describe the aspects of the behavior that make it an example of a MAP or general behavioral trait.
- Explain one possible limitation of the current environment and/or how the environment could interfere with the process of natural selection applied to your example.
- Explain your idea for the new hypothetical reflexive behavior that humans do not possess and describe exactly how the behavior would be helpful or aid in survival.
- Describe why the specific characteristic(s) of the behavior make it an example of a reflex.
- Explain one possible limitation of the current environment, and/or how the environment could interfere with the process of natural selection applied to your example.