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Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen CLASSICAL ETHOLOGICAL THEORY: Ethology studies the behavior of animals and humans from an evolutionary perspective BEHAVIOR AS AN ADAPTATION (HAS SURVIVAL VALUE) ADAPTATION = A BEHAVIOR OR MORPHOLOGICAL FEATURE DESIGNED BY NATURAL SELECTION IN ORDER TO PERFORM A PARTICULAR FUNCTION EXAMPLE: ATTACHMENT IS A BEHAVIORAL SYSTEM DESIGNED BY NATURAL SELECTION TO KEEP THE BABY CLOSE TO ITS MOTHER Animals have thousands of adaptations. Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology MUCH OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR IS INSTINCTIVE INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR = : 1.) BEHAVIOR OCCURS IN ALL MEMBERS OF SPECIES (= SPECIES-TYPICAL BEHAVIOR) 2.) NO LEARNING REQUIRED; OFTEN BEHAVIOR CAN DEVELOP WITHOUT ANIMAL EVER EXPERIENCING OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SPECIES 3.) STEREOTYPED BEHAVIOR Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology Example: Spider webs. All spiders of a certain species are able to spin their particular type of web. They don't learn this by classical conditioning, operant conditioning, or social learning. Young spiders may never see other members of the same species, but they are able to spin a web as soon as necessary when they reach the appropriate developmental stage. Their webs all look basically alike; they are stereotyped. Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology Ethology emphasize how animal’s behavior is adapted to the context (evolutionary contextualism). BEHAVIOR IS ELICITED IN PARTICULAR CONTEXTS: E.G., AN ANIMAL MAY BE AGGRESSIVE ONLY DURING MATING SEASON, OR ONLY WITH OTHER MALES Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology FIXED OR MODAL ACTION PATTERN (FAP): A SEQUENCE OF BEHAVIORS ELICITED BY A SPECIFIC STIMULUS; E.G. AGGRESSION IN FIGHTING FISH. When the fighting fish sees the red belly of another male during breeding season while he is defending his territory, he will attack in a stereotyped manner. There are a great many such examples, ranging from mating rituals to parenting behaviors. Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology INNATE RELEASING MECHANISM (IRM): AN IRM IS A MECHANISM THAT TRIGGERS AN INNATE SEQUENCE OR PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR AS A RESULT OF PERCEIVING A STIMULUS; E.G., RED BELLY OF ANOTHER MALE TRIGGERS AGGRESSION IN FIGHTING FISH. \ IF IRM PRESENT, THEN FAP WILL BE EMITTED. THE IRM IS A PHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISM IN THE FISH. IT RESPONDS TO A CERTAIN STIMULUS, SUCH AS THE RED BELLY OF ANOTHER MALE, AND TRIGGERS A PARTICULAR BEHAVIORAL SEQUENCE, IN THIS CASE, AGGRESSION. Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology LIKE COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY, ETHOLOGY EMPHASIZES UNIVERSALS OF DEVELOPMENT (NORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT: ALL CHILDREN DEVELOP THE BASIC EMOTIONS IN THE SAME SEQUENCE IN ALL CULTURES: JOY, SADNESS, DISTRESS, ANGER, FEAR, ETC. Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology METHODOLOGY: NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION; STRONGLY OPPOSED TO LABORATORY EXPERIMENTS UNTIL BASIC NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION COMPLETED. This was a major departure from both Cognitive Social Learning Theory (lab based experiments) and Cognitive Developmental Theory (interviews) Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS OF ETHOLOGY: 1.) NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION 2.) THINK OF CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR AS INCLUDING A SET OF BIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS FOR SURVIVAL OVER EVOLUTIONARY TIME 3.) STUDY BEHAVIORS THAT ALSO OCCUR IN ANIMALS (DOMINANCE, AGGRESSION, ATTACHMENT, early parent-offspring relationships) 4.) FOCUS ON NONVERBAL BEHAVIOR: EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS, THREAT GESTURES, POSTURE, ETC. 5.) CRITICAL PERIOD OR SENSITIVE PERIOD. Theoretical Perspectives on Development: Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods DEFINITION: A PERIOD IN DEVELOPMENT WHEN ORGANISM IS MOST OPEN TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES (I. E., HAS GREATEST PLASTICITY) HIGH PLASTICITY LOW ______________________________ AGE EXAMPLES OF CRITICAL OR SENSITIVE PERIODS: IMPRINTING IN DUCKS; ATTACHMENT IN HUMANS; EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENT ON IQ(?) PRENATAL EFFECTS OF TERATOGENS (E.G., ALCOHOL) ON BABIES Sensitive Periods for Teratogens Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods: Orphaned Baby Hippo adopts Turtle as Mom Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods: Orphaned Baby Hippo adopts Turtle as Mom Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods: Orphaned Baby Hippo adopts Turtle as Mom Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 1.) DEVELOPMENT THE RESULT OF QUALITATIVE CHANGES IN THE STRUCTURE OF CHILDREN'S THINKING. 2.) COGNITIVE STRUCTURE = AN INTERRELATED SYSTEM OF KNOWLEDGE THAT GUIDES BEHAVIOR EXAMPLE: SCHEME = A COGNITIVE STRUCTURE OF INFANCY; A SCHEME CONSISTS OF SKILLED, FLEXIBLE ACTION PATTERNS THROUGH WHICH CHILD UNDERSTANDS THE WORLD; BALL SCHEME INCLUDES WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A BALL, ETC.; SCHEME OF BALL CHANGES OVER DEVELOPMENT IN A QUALITATIVE MANNER Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 3.) FUNCTIONS: INNATE BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES UNDERLYING COGNITION a.) ORGANIZATION: THE INNATE NEED TO MAKE SENSE OF WORLD AND INTEGRATE NEW INFORMATION WITH OLD b.) ASSIMILATION: INTERPRETING NEW EXPERIENCES IN TERMS OF EXISTING COGNITIVE STRUCTURES c.) ACCOMMODATION: CHANGING EXISTING COGNITIVE STRUCTURES TO FIT WITH NEW EXPERIENCES Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory Adapt to new information Assimilation Accommodation Reinterpret new Revamp old ideas so experiences so they they can adapt to new – fit into old ideas – change current ways of existing ideas don’t thinking/ideas so as to change, stay same add new knowledge Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 4.) CONSTRUCTIVISM: CHILDREN CREATE THEIR OWN WORLDS; INTERPRET WORLD AS FUNCTION OF THEIR STAGE. A stage is like having a pair of colored glasses: It makes you see the world differently; Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 5.) METHOD: CLINICAL METHOD: A SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEW AIMED AT GETTING AT HOW THE CHILD IS THINKING Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 6.) EGOCENTRISM: CHILDREN TEND TO HAVE DIFFICULTY SEEING THINGS FROM OTHERS' POINTS OF VIEW. E.g., 4-year-old can’t understand other child’s point of view about a toy they both want, or thinks that a visual display will look the same from a different viewpoint. WITH AGE, CHILDREN GRADUALLY DECENTER, but even we adults are somewhat egocentric. Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 7.) YOUNG CHILDREN ARE LESS FLEXIBLE IN THEIR THINKING; e.g., moral rules are absolute: “Stealing is bad,” Sex roles are absolute: “Girls wear dresses”; there are no exceptions. Piaget’s Periods of Cognitive Development Birth to 2 Sensori-motor Uses senses and Object years motor skills, items permanence known by use learned 2-6 yrs Pre- Symbolic thinking, Imagination/ operational language used; experience grow, egocentric thinking child de-centers 7-11 yrs Concrete Logic applied, has Conservation, operational objective/rational numbers, ideas, interpretations classifications 12 yrs to Formal Thinks abstractly, Ethics, politics, adulthood operational hypothetical ideas social/moral (broader issues) issues explored Focus on organization and adaptation Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory 8.) CRITERIA FOR A STAGE ACCORDING TO PIAGET: a.) QUALITATIVE CHANGE; b.) UNIVERSAL c. INVARIANT SEQUENCE d.) STRUCTURED WHOLE: Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory Structured Whole: CHILDREN IN A PARTICULAR STAGE THINK THE SAME WAY ABOUT MORALITY AND THEIR FRIENDS AS THEY THINK ABOUT STICKS AND STONES. This happens because children's cognitive mechanisms develop in sync with each other. At any age there is a sort of stereotypical way that children think. You might say of a child that he "thinks like a four year old". According to Piaget, children exhibit the same strengths and weaknesses in their thinking no matter what the subject matter; Whether a child is thinking about what makes something morally good or what happens when you pour water from a tall, thin beaker into a short, fat beaker, the same age typical mechanisms are on display. Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory Stages are therefore DOMAIN GENERAL as opposed to DOMAIN SPECIFIC. Domain specific mechanisms take in only a very narrow and specific range of information and each mechanism is designed to solve a very specific problem. For example, one aspect of the human fear system is that it is designed to respond to images of snakes with fear. This system is designed to deal with information on snakes in a reflexive way but does not respond to other stimuli (e.g., tasty food). Domain general mechanisms are not restricted to a narrow range of information and are not designed to solve any particular problem. Stages are domain general because they are are very general mechanisms designed to solve a wide range of problems--in fact, all the problems the child encounters, from morality, to religion, to figuring out the properties of sets of objects. Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory Stages are therefore DOMAIN GENERAL as opposed to DOMAIN SPECIFIC. Domain specific mechanisms take in only a very narrow and specific range of information and each mechanism is designed to solve a very specific problem. For example, one aspect of the human fear system is that it is designed to respond to images of snakes with fear. This system is designed to deal with information on snakes in a reflexive way but does not respond to other stimuli (e.g., tasty food). Domain general mechanisms are not restricted to a narrow range of information and are not designed to solve any particular problem. Stages are domain general because they are are very general mechanisms designed to solve a wide range of problems--in fact, all the problems the child encounters, from morality, to religion, to figuring out the properties of sets of objects. The next section of the course will deal with evolutionary psychology which emphasizes domain specific mechanisms and even denies the existence of domain general mechanisms. And after that, I will present a perspective that shows that the domain specific perspective can be combined with the domain general perspective. EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY LEDA COSMIDES AND JOHN TOOBY INTERESTED IN 'NATURAL COMPETENCIES'; i.e., ABILITIES TO SEE, SPEAK, FIND SOMEONE BEAUTIFUL, FEAR DISEASE, FALL IN LOVE, RECIPROCATE A FAVOR, EXPERIENCE MORAL OUTRAGE. These are universals—aspects of normative development. All people have these abilities. Not interested in individual differences—why one child is nicer or more aggressive than another EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY LEDA COSMIDES AND JOHN TOOBY BEING ABLE TO SEE, SPEAK, FIND SOMEONE BEAUTIFUL, FEAR DISEASE, FALL IN LOVE, RECIPROCATE A FAVOR, EXPERIENCE MORAL OUTRAGE ARE SUPPORTED BY A SET OF MENTAL ADAPTATIONS THAT EVOLVED TO SOLVE PARTICULAR ADAPTIVE PROBLEMS IN THE HUMAN ENVIRONMENT OF EVOLUTIONARY ADAPTEDNESS (EEA). EEA = ENVIRONMENT OF EVOLUTIONARY ADAPTEDNESS = ENVIRONMENT WHICH HUMANS EVOLVED IN AND WHICH PRESENTED THE SET OF PROBLEMS THAT WERE SOLVED BY THE SET OF HUMAN ADAPTATIONS. EXAMPLE: ATTACHMENT IS AN ADAPTATION THAT SOLVED THE PROBLEM PRESENTED BY AN ANCESTRAL ENVIRONMENT WITH PREDATORS AND OTHER DANGERS TO INFANTS. THIS ANCESTRAL ENVIRONMENT IS THE HUMAN EEA. Levels of an Evolutionary Analysis ADAPTIVE PROBLEM: Males must discriminate appropriate mate ↕ COGNITIVE PROGRAM: Find young healthy women attractive ↕ NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS: Brain mechanism responsible for positive appraisal of healthy, young female EP: Different Tools for different tasks; SSSM: One tool for all tasks The Swiss Army Knife Analogy FIVE PRINCIPLES OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY (1) THE BRAIN IS A PHYSICAL SYSTEM. IT FUNCTIONS AS A COMPUTER DESIGNED TO GENERATE BEHAVIOR APPROPRIATE TO YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL CIRCUMSTANCES. Like Innate Releasing Mechanism in ethology The psychological mechanism is responsive to particular environmental contingencies. If E1 occurs, do x; if E2 occurs, do y. FIVE PRINCIPLES OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY (2) OUR NEURAL CIRCUITS WERE DESIGNED BY NS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS THAT OUR ANCESTORS FACED DURING HUMAN EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY. EXAMPLE: HUMANS AND DUNG FLIES RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO FECES. MORAL: ENVIRONMENTS DO NOT SPECIFY APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR; BRAIN VIA NS DOES. BRAIN IS NATURALLY CONSTRUCTED COMPUTATIONAL SYSTEM WHOSE FUNCTION IS TO SOLVE ADAPTIVE INFORMATION PROCESSING PROBLEMS. ADAPTIVE PROBLEMS ARE (a) RECURRENT IN OUR EVOLUTIONARY PAST; Natural selection can only work on problems that occur repeatedly over very long periods of time. (b) THEIR SOLUTION INCREASED FITNESS IN THE EEA. FIVE PRINCIPLES OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY (3) WE ACCOMPLISH DIFFICULT TASKS EASILY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY. THE CIRCUITRY IS COMPLEX, BUT WE ARE NOT CONSCIOUS OF IT. CONSCIOUSNESS IS LIKE BEING PRESIDENT: YOU ARE AWARE OF HIGH LEVEL CONCLUSIONS PASSED ON BY THOUSANDS OF LOWER LEVEL MECHANISMS. EXAMPLE: VISION: CELLS SPECIALIZED TO DETECT MOTION, VERTICAL SURFACES, HORIZONTAL SURFACES; CIRCUITS SPECIALIZED FOR JUDGING DISTANCE, DIRECTION OF MOTION. FIVE PRINCIPLES OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY (4) DIFFERENT NEURAL CIRCUITS ARE SPECIALIZED FOR SOLVING DIFFERENT ADAPTIVE PROBLEMS. VISION, HEARING, LOVE, MORAL OUTRAGE HAVE SEPARATE CIRCUITS. THE BRAIN IS A SET OF MINI- COMPUTERS (MODULES) DESIGNED TO SOLVE SPECIFIC PROBLEMS. THESE MODULES ARE FUNCTIONALLY INTEGRATED TO PRODUCE BEHAVIOR. Module is a specialized psychological mechanism designed to solve a particular problem. It takes in specific information and it has a particular output. EXAMPLE: INFANTS AT 2-1/2 MONTHS HAVE 'PRIVILEGED HYPOTHESES': i.e., THEY ASSUME WORLD IS MADE UP OF RIGID OBJECTS CONTINUOUS IN SPACE AND TIME; THEY ARE SURPRISED IF ONE OBJECT APPEARS TO GO THROUGH ANOTHER, ETC. FIVE PRINCIPLES OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY 4 (cont.) THE BRAIN CONSISTS OF CIRCUITS FOR LEARNING AND REASONING. THESE CIRCUITS (a) ARE DOMAIN SPECIFIC: EACH MECHANISM IS SPECIALIZED FOR A PARTICULAR DOMAIN (Vision, Love, Sexual attraction, Emotion recognition, etc.) (b) SOLVE SPECIFIC ADAPTIVE PROBLEMS; (c) DEVELOP IN ALL NORMAL HUMANS (UNIVERSALS); (d) DEVELOP WITHOUT CONSCIOUS EFFORT OR FORMAL INSTRUCTION; (e) APPLIED WITHOUT CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OF UNDERLYING LOGIC; FIVE PRINCIPLES OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY (5) OUR MODERN SKULLS HOUSE A STONE-AGE MIND. WE LIVED AS HUNTER-GATHERERS FOR 99.9% OF OUR 10 MILLION YEAR EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY. OUR ADAPTATIONS ARE DESIGNED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF HUNTERS AND GATHERERS. OUR ADAPTATIONS DO NOT NECESSARILY GENERATE ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR NOW. OUR ADAPTATIONS MAY NOT PRODUCE FIT BEHAVIOR IN CONTEMPORARY ENVIRONMENTS. Mismatch Theory EXAMPLES: PEOPLE LOVE TO EAT SWEET, SALT, AND FAT; BUT IN MODERN ENVIRONMENT OF FOOD SURPLUSES AND REFINED SUGAR, THIS MAY LEAD TO HEALTH PROBLEMS. Evolutionary Psychology: The Bottom Line • The mind is composed of a large number of mental modules each designed to solve a specific problem. • For example, there is one mechanism for perceiving three dimensions, another for anger, another for falling in love. • The mind is like a Swiss Army knife; i.e., it has lots of specialized tools. • There is no such thing as general intelligence, general learning, or any other general ability to solve problems. • These mechanisms are modules: They take in specific input (e.g., the fear mechanism responds to specific inputs, such as a snake; and it has specific outputs— the fear response. This is discussed further in Ch. 3 Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific) NEO-PIAGETIAN APPROACHES COMBINE DOMAIN-SPECIFIC MODULES (CONSISTENT WITH EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY) WITH DOMAIN-GENERAL MECHANISMS OF TRADITIONAL PIAGETIAN THEORY. AN IMPORTANT CANDIDATE FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT DOMAIN GENERAL MECHANISMS ARE THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH GENERAL INTELLIGENCE: WORKING MEMORY AS PARADIGM: HAVING A GOOD WORKING MEMORY IS LIKE A COMPUTER HAVING A HIGH-CAPACITY PROCESSER: It is able to run all kinds of software better. A good working memory means that you can keep lots of different things in your mind when you solve a problem—spatial relationships, verbal instructions, etc. You would be better at math and at law or medicine. A high capacity computer chip runs video games, web browsers, or word processes faster. Because it works with different types of input, it is domain general. Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 1 • g is like a computer chip. • Computers with a faster computer chip outperform computers with slower chips. • This means they run all your software faster, whether it’s graphics, web browsing, or word processing. • In this analogy, the graphics and word processing programs are like modules—they have specific inputs and outputs. • g is the domain general, non-modular processor that affects the speed and efficiency of the domain specific modules underlying the middle level factors in the diagram. Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 1 Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 1 • The figure represents the results of factor analysis of cognitive ability tests. • Factor analysis is a correlational procedure that basically discovers what traits co-vary together. • These results show several middle level factors (spatial, numerical, social/verbal, etc.) and a higher order factor (g). • Items related to spatial reasoning tend to correlate with each other, resulting in the middle level spatial factor. • The evolutionary psychology idea is that a spatial reasoning module underlies this spatial ability factor. • The spatial reasoning module has all the characteristics of modules: It takes in only a very specialized type of stimulation (related to objects in space), and it has only very specific outputs (spatial reasoning). • This means it is domain specific (= able to deal with only one type of stimulation.) • The same could be said for all of the other middle level factors. Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 1 Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 1 • g, the higher order factor, is correlated with all of the middle level factors. • people higher on g perform better on all of the middle level abilities. • This means that the mechanisms underlying g are domain general. (Why?) • The psychological mechanisms underlying g include domain general abilities such as working memory and speed of processing. • These abilities are domain general and non-modular because they are not restricted to specific types of inputs and not restricted to specific types of outputs. • Working memory can be used with an incredible variety of inputs, from number lists to rotating figures in space; so it is not domain specific. Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 1 Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 2 Neo-Piagetian Approaches: Synthesis between Piaget (domain general) and Evolutionary Psychology (domain specific): Figure 2 • The core capacities are domain general: speed, span, and control. • These are the same as processing speed, working memory, and the ability to inhibit irrelevant responses from previous slide. • Specialized capacity spheres are the domain specific modules: spatial, verbal social, numerical, etc. • Stage Transition Zones: Times when children’s core capacities change rapidly (= stages).
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