Lecture 8: Human and animal Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Lecture 8: Human and animal Deck (23):

What is ontogeny?
What is the traditional view about types of behaviour?

The change in an organism's behaviour over its lifetime, this is analogous to changes in a species across evolutionary time.
There are two types; Genes and environment


What is the historical divide between ethology and comparative psychology?

Europeans believed in ethology whereas comparative psychology was believed by North Americans. Ethology believes in instinct and evolution (measured via observation) whereas comparative believes in learning and development (measured via lab).


Compare robust and plastic behaviours
Give an example

Robust believes that behaviour develops the same way in different environments whereas plastic believes that behaviour is altered by the environment. These two can interact though.
Tanning is plastic because melanin darkens your skin, there's a trade-off between manufacturing vitamin D and UV damage.


List the 5 conditions needed for the evolution of plasticity

1. Variation in environmental history
2. Different optimal phenotypes for different environments
3. There is consistent mapping of the above
4. Reliable predictive cues for environmental future
5. Cost of plasticity is outweighed by benefits


Describe the idea of behaviours being due to instinct

It's been a concept throughout history. For example, Descartes believed instinctive behaviours were formed by God to make behaviour adaptable. Darwin, Lorenz and Tinbergen where essential in the development of instinctive behaviours. There are innate-releasing mechanisms like a red belly in fish, recognising this is species-typical and unlearned and in response there's a fixed action pattern that's stereotyped and constant.
Tinbergen's herring-gull pecking (1959), chicks have an innate mechanism to peck at a red spot on the mothers' beak to get food, but the object that they peck can change due to environment (whether the mum gives food)- this is imprinting.


What is developmental induction?

It's when animals adapt their phenotypic characteristics to prevent predation. For example the size and shape of freshwaters snails' shell vary because of this (Bronmark 2011).


What is imprinting?
Describe two types

Irreversible learning characterised by the sensitive period. It's innate but the object of imprinting isn't, e.g. chicks following mother. Some models are better than others. The sensory/sensitive period is when birds learn their songs and humans develop.
Filial imprinting; It's visual and olfactory, for example sheep licking their young when the smell placental smells.
Sexual imprinting; Facial preferences in humans, Japanese quail preferring certain colours of plumage.


Discuss negative sexual imprinting

Quail, Kibbutzim. However, flexibility varies across species, for example, great tit and blue tit are known to cross foster.


Why shouldn't you use the term instinct to define behaviour?

Because it's a very vague term as it encompasses innate, unlearned, species typical, inflexible, adaptive and genetic differences in behaviour, you should use specifics when describing behaviour.


What is the learning theory?

A behaviourist theory that only looked at behavioural and physiological responses and ignored emotions and motives. It is anti-theoretical. It dominated psychology in the early 20th century.


Describe non-associative learning

Habituation; decreased response to a repeated stimulus
Dishabituation; Used in developmental studies of infants (opposite effect).


Discuss classical and operant conditioning

Classical conditioning involves: An unconditioned response, a conditioned response, an unconditioned stimulus and a conditioned stimulus.
Thorndike's puzzle box is a classic example of operant, it's a response followed by a reinforcer which strengths the association, the law of effect.


Describe the similarities and differences between operant and classical conditioning

Similarities: It involves an association between stimulus
Differences: Operant involves a reward rather than an arbitrary stimulus, a new response is learned rather than a new stimulus, the animal is active rather than passive and it's more ecologically valid.


List and describe the three constraints of learning

1. Timing; Contiguity is often important but sometimes you need gaps, e.g. rats learning food aversion
2. Plausibility of the association; For example food preference in rats, Garcia 1996, they were given bright water and tasty water and were punished either via x rays (nausea- drank colourful water but not tasty water) or via shock, however, if they were shocked they would still drink the tasty water
3. Evolutionary preparedness; Cook and mineka 1988, wild monkeys fear snakes but reared ones don't unless they see someone react fearfully to a snake, then they learn it immediately.


Describe nature vs nurture debate in this day and age

It's a false dichotomy, it doesn't exist as nature and nurture interact. For example maze-bright vs maze-dull rats. Genes specify the plan and correspondence with the phenotype, aka the ingredients.


Describe social learning

Behaviour that's modified by conspecifics due to observations and interactions. E.g. macaques washing their sweet potatoes or titmice opening milk bottles.


Give examples of why social learning is important

It's important for psychological reasons and behavioural reasons
Psychological: Perspective taking, intelligence, cognition, innovation, tool use and culture
Behavioural: Foraging, mate choice, predator identification, social communication, social intelligence.


List 5 mechanisms of social learning
Give an example study

1. Social facilitation; seeing other results in action
2. Local enhancement; Attention draw to the location of the action
3. Stimulus enhancement; Attention drawn to stimulus properties
4. Emulation; Coping results
5. Imitation; Copying the action
Galef 1983, observer rats preferred food that the demonstrator took, this can result in cultural traditions.


List the questions that imitation brings up

Do animals understand what is happening?
Do they intentionally copy?
Does this mean they have complex mental processing?
Or theory of mind?
Or consciousness?


Give an example study of imitation

Whiten 1996 found that chimps often use the same technique as the demonstrator to get artificial fruit rather than alternative techniques.


Describe the evolution of social learning

It's beneficial as it avoids trial and error learning, however, others' behaviours might be outdated or wrong. Learning is an adaptation itself because if the environment changes then social learning will peak and decrease, robust learning will just decrease but individual learning will increase.


Describe the Baldwin effect

Learning can guide evolution, for example in the unlikely event that two mutations occur. Then a bottle nose will be able to produce a food call and the receiver will be able to respond. If the receiver learns to associate the call with food then they can succeed via natural selection, allowing complex behavioural systems to develop


When is plasticity favoured?
What about social learning?

When the long term environment is changing but short term is stable.
When environmental change is intermediate and individual learning is costly.