Added: Sharifa Felker - Date: 14.11.2021 06:38 - Views: 10807 - Clicks: 9824
Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Because the definition of behavior changes as our understanding of behavior changes, giving a final definition is impossible. One can, however, rule out some possibilities and propose some others based on what we currently know. Behavior is not simply movement, but must be defined by its function. Also, our understanding of behavior must agree with evolutionary theory. I suggest 4 basic principles: a only whole organisms behave; b behavior is purposive; c behavior takes Wm looking for something different and d behavior is choice.
Saying that parts of an organism behave is nonsense, and, moreover, evolutionary theory explains the existence of organisms mainly through their adaptive behavior. Behavior is purposive in that behavior is shaped by its consequences, through an organism's lifetime or through interactions with the environment across many generations of natural selection.
Behavior takes time in that behavior is interaction with the environment that cannot take place at a moment. Moreover, at a moment in time, one cannot definitely identify the function of behavior. Identification of an activity requires a span of time. Behavior is choice in the sense that a suitable span of time always includes time spent in more than 1 activity. Activities include parts that are themselves activities on a smaller time scale and compete for time.
Thus, behavior constitutes time allocation. An ing problem arises whenever any behavior is attributed to multiple consequences. In the molar multiscale view, this raises the question of whether 2 activities can occur at the same time. The question remains open. We need to recognize at the outset that any attempt to define behavior is bound to be invalidated in time. The more we know about behavior, the more our definition changes. In a real sense, the whole aim of a science of behavior is to define behavior. That said, I still want to explore what I think can be said about behavior at this time.
First, we understand enough to rule out some possibilities. Behavior is not simply movement through space or otherwise. As Skinner pointed out, one might flip a light switch to be able to see or to warn a prowler; even though the motion of flipping the switch is the same, the two are different actions, because the consequences are different. Skinner argued that specifying an operant activity requires both topography and function, that is, something about the physical description of the activity and something about what useful the activity does e.
A person running along the street might be fleeing the police or running in a race. A rat pressing a lever and eating differs from a rat pressing a lever and drinking. Somehow the consequences of the activity must be included in the label. The examples above drive home the point that an activity must be defined in a large enough temporal context to include its controlling consequences, whether immediate or remote. I can put a nail in the wall with a hammer or a rock, although once I have a hammer available, it is more effective to use than a rock. Both Skinner and Guerin implicitly assume that even though function or outcome defines an activity, agency plays no part.
Behavioral events are natural events, to be understood in relation to other natural events, such as rain, sunrise, gravity, and fire Baum, b. In commonsense folk psychology, behavior is done by an agent, and behavioral events or actions seem to be a different category, separate from other events for this reason.
Lever pressing occurred, and it is ased to Rat 3. The same applies to all behavior, including utterances.
The organism, we may say, is only the medium of Wm looking for something different behavior, as water may be the medium of a chemical reaction. This aspect of behavior analysis puts it at odds with common sense and most philosophy of mind. Second, our understanding of behavior should be based on, or at least compatible with, evolutionary theory.
Behavior analysts, with a few exceptions Baum, ; Catania, ; Hall,have ignored evolution, with the untoward result that behavior analysis lies outside the mainstream of contemporary biology; few biologists seem even to be aware of its existence let alone its relevance. The reason that behavior analysis lies outside the mainstream is that it grew within psychology and has a tortured relation with psychology. Typically, behavior analysts are found in psychology departments, and the department treats behavior analysis as an area within psychology.
Behavior analysis, however, is not a part of psychology, as long as psychology is defined as the science of mind. Being a science of behavior, behavior analysis is really an alternative to psychology, as psychology is usually conceived. The unfortunate emphasis on discrete responses as the units of behavior derives from psychology.
Associationists of the 19th century and reflexologists of the early 20th century thought of ideas and responses as discrete units primarily connected by their contiguity in time. The emphasis on discrete events and contiguity has handicapped behavior analysis. The time is overdue to leave behind Pavlov and to embrace Darwin instead.
Many definitions of behavior have been offered, some more carefully thought through than others. A recent survey by behavioral biologists Levitis, Lidicker, and Freund noted disagreement and inconsistencies about what counts as behavior. They sent out a questionnaire to other biologists, with a list of statements about behavior and a list of ambiguous examples, and analyzed responses.
Note that no behavior analysts were invited. The respondents largely agreed on four points: a A developmental change is usually not behavior; b behavior is always influenced by the internal processes of the individual; c behavior is something whole individuals do, not organs or parts that make up individuals; d behavior is always in response to a stimulus or set of stimuli, but the stimulus can be either internal or external Levitis et al. On the basis of their data and their own thinking, Levitis et al.
Even this carefully thought-out definition remains ambiguous around its edges. For example, Levitis et al. First, they leave open how one should define action, a crucial term, because action differs little from behavior. Second, the inclusion of inaction as behavior seems odd, because a live organism is always behaving somehow.
Third, the term internal stimuli is fraught with possibilities for mentalism. Only whole living organisms behave. The grounds for limiting behavior to whole organisms may be considered either logical or theoretical.
The logical basis is discussed at length by Bennett and Hacker For example. Psychological predicates are predicable only of a whole animal, not of its parts. No conventions have been laid down to determine what is to be meant by the ascription of such predicates to a Wm looking for something different of an animal, in particular to its brain.
So the application of such predicates to the brain … transgresses the bounds of sense. The resultant assertions are not false, for to say that something is false, we must have some idea of what it would be for it to be true—in this case, we should have to know what it would be for the brain to think, reason, see and hear, etc.
But we have no such idea, as these assertions are not false. Rather, the sentences in question lack sense. For our present purposes, the more important reason for ascribing behavior only to whole organisms resides in evolutionary theory. Indeed organisms exist largely because they behave. Why is the earth populated by animals, plants, protozoa, bacteria, and so on? Why didn't the first DNA remain in the primordial soup in which it originated? In a word, the answer given by evolutionary theory is selection. If some variants in the genome made for cells, groups of cells, tissues, and so on, and those variants reproduced more than their competitors that had other effects, then the advantageous variants increased in s and the competitors decreased.
Dawkins ab pointed out that a replicated entity, to be successful, must possess a fidelity, b longevity, and c fecundity. The more faithfully it is copied, the longer it lasts to be copied, and the more it is copied, the more successful is the replicated entity, which, in this context, is a genetic variant.
And how would organisms confer their advantages? Most likely they would improve longevity and fecundity, partly by surviving long enough and partly by reproducing often enough. Although physiological mechanisms contribute to these advantages, the most important contributor, particularly in more complex organisms, is the ability to interact with the environment in ways that advance reproductive success, that is, behavior.
Organisms produce offspring, sexually and asexually, obtain resources necessary for reproduction, avoid predators and parasites, and interact socially. Such activities are what we mean by behavior, and they occur only in whole organisms.
Behavior is purposive. When we say behavior is purposive, we mean that behavior is shaped by its consequences Baum, The consequences that matter are the ones that affect reproductive success. If they do it poorly, their chances of reproductive success decrease. The extent to which their behavior may change in response to variations in obtaining resources varies. The sponge's behavior may be able to change little, the fish may be able to move to a better part of the stream, the bird may move to a better patch, the lion may improve its skills, and the human may improve his or her income by working more hours or changing jobs.
The more proximate consequences that ultimately affect reproductive success are the events we recognize by various labels: reinforcers, punishers, unconditional stimuli, aversive stimuli, releasers, inducers, and so on Baum, I call these phylogenetically important events PIEs; Baum, They are important in the sense that they affect reproductive success, and they are effective due to natural selection.
Types of individuals whose behavior responded insufficiently to presence of potential mates, food, predators, harsh climate, and so on, produced fewer offspring and tended to disappear from the population. The effectiveness of such events arises because they usually enhance or reduce reproductive success in the long run.Wm looking for something different
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