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Chapter 3: Ethological Theories

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Kristen Brown

on 25 November 2012

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Transcript of Chapter 3: Ethological Theories

Darwin Theory of Evolution Lorenz and Tinbergen Modern Ethologists Bowlby and Ainsworth Human Attachment Ethology the study of animal and human behavior within an evolutionary context. Ethological Theories Darwin, Lorenz and Tinbergen, and Bowlby and Ainsworth Kristen Brown PSYCH 534 Fascination with nature and wildlife led to his position on the Beagle, and subsequently to the observations used to help the development of his theory on evolution Concluded that the various species had a common ancestor, and newer species had died out or changed to meet requirements of their changing environments. Not the common idea that species was created in a fixed and perfect form. Darwin and Wallace presented joint theory of evolution in 1858. A year later, he published The Origin of Species. Theory of Natural Selection In the Darwin-Wallace theory, no new characteristics need to be acquired during an individual's lifetime. Endless variation
among the various members, only a fraction of these who are born survive to reproduce
"Struggle for Existence" - fittest members of a species live long enough to transmit their characteristics to the next generation.
Nature then "selects" those who can best adapt to their surroundings The Case of Humans In Darwin's book, The Descent of Man, he discussed the similarities between species:
physical level - bones, muscles, nerves, embryonic development.
behavioral realm - areas of reason and emotion, capacity for rich emotional lives, concern for others (group survival). Darwin opened the door to the field of ethology through his theories. Konrad Lorenz is known as the Father of Modern Ethology. Began to study ethology when he became convinced that one could see the landmarks of evolution in the innate behavior patterns of animals, just as surely as their physical traits. Niko Tinbergen, along with Lorenz (and Von Frisch) won the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1973. Methodological Approach Ethologists are convinced that studying the animal in it's natural setting will help in determining the animal's behavior pattern, as well as observe how they serve in the adaptation of the species. Naturalistic Observation Instinctive Behavior An instinct can be:
Released by a specific external stimulus (hens protecting chicks due to a distress call)
Species-specific (following of parent's behavior)
Fixed action pattern (courtship, fighting gestures) - drive component
Survival Value A special class of unlearned behaviors Ethologists distinguish between instincts and reflexes. Imprinting For many animals, they are innately equipped with all of the patterns of an instinct, but lack some information about the releasing stimuli. Although Lorenz was not the first to observe imprinting, he was the first to state that it occurred during a critical period. Imprinting Sensitive versus Critical Period and the Beginning and Ending Markers Imprinting may govern other kinds of learning: sexual preferences, learning of territorial maps, food preferences, and songs. Some research showed that slowing the neural development of animals may lead to extending the critical period. Thus, many refer to this specific time early in life as a sensitive period, rather than a critical period. The beginning of the critical or sensitive period seems to be ushered in by inner, maturational promptings (the young animal spontaneously searches for parent on which to imprint) and ends with the onset of the fear response. Criticisms U.S. Psychologists criticized ethologists for ignoring the role of the environment and experience.
However, ethologists recognize that instincts have evolved because they have been adaptive within certain environments and that instincts need the right environment to develop properly. Thus, the environment is important. And, instincts will emerge without elaborate conditioning or learning. Theory of Attachment Overview John Bowlby became on of the first British psychiatrists to work in the area of child guidance. Early on he was concerned about the disturbances of children growing up in understaffed orphanages and nurseries. Mary D. S. Ainsworth, who became Bowlby's research assistant, contributed to the field of Human Attachment through her Uganda and Baltimore studies in which she sketched out the phases of attachment and described how babies use the mother as a secure base from which to explore. Actions that maintain proximity to a parent - like crying out, clinging, following - are known as attachment behaviors. In our species, attachment behaviors became part of our biological equipment because they helped the young survive, providing protection from predators in our environment of adaptedness. "A Two-Year-Old goes to Hospital" As a product of evolution, the human child has an instinctual need to stay close to the parent on whom she imprinted. Phases of Attachment Phase 1 (Birth - 3 months): Social Gestures with Limited Selectivity Within a few days after birth, babies can discriminate among people. Prefer mother's voice, odor, and face.
3 - 4 weeks of age: social smile (directed at high-pitched human voice and aimed at any face) - smile is a releaser that promotes loving and caring interaction.
about the same time, babbling occurs, which also promotes social interaction
Crying also results in proximity between caretaker and child, as does the baby's holding on.
Two holding responses: grasp reflex (touching baby's open palm) and the Moro reflex (a startled baby exhibits an embracing action).
Rooting and sucking are other reflexes babies are equipped with. Phases of Attachment Phase 2 (3-6 months): Focusing on Familiar People Starting at 3 months, the baby's behavior changes. Moro, grasp and rooting reflexes drop out and social responses become more selective.
Smile at familiar and stare at strangers.
4-5 months: babies coo and babble will make sounds in presence of people they recognize and crying is quieted by familiar faces, as well.
5 months: reach and grab parts of our anatomy
Babies seem to develop the strongest attachment to the one person who has most alertly responded to their signals and has engaged in most pleasurable interactions. Phases of Attachment Phase 3 (6 months to 3 years): Intensive Attachment and Active-Proximity-Seeking Beginning about 6 months, infant's attachments become increasingly intensive. Most notably infants cry out when Mother figure leaves the room - separation anxiety.
7-8 months: fear of strangers
8 months: crawl and actively follow departing parent.
1-2 year old: caretaker is a secure base from which to explore.
By the end of the first year, the child has built a working model of the attachment figure - idea of accessibility and responsiveness. Phases of Attachment Phase 4 (3 years to the end of childhood): Partnership Behavior For a 2-year-old, the knowledge that mother or father is "going next door for a moment" is meaningless; the child simply wants to go, too. However, the 3-year-old has some understanding of such plans and can visualize the parent's behavior while he or she is away. Thus, the child is more willing to let the parent go away. Institutional Deprivation Bowlby deemed many institutionally reared children who were unable to form deep attachments later in life "affectionless characters." use people solely for their own needs
seem incapable of forming loving, lasting ties to others.
speculated that such individuals lacked the opportunity to form an early relationship with a mother-figure
found that if a baby hasn't formed an attachment by 8 or 9 months (the time in which babies usually show fear of strangers), the baby may have missed the sensitive period for developing bonds in general Separation What happens to the child that forms a normal attachment and then suffers a separation? For children 1- to 3-year-olds that are forced into separation for one to several weeks, the child's behavior goes through 3 stages:
1st stage: Protest. They cry and scream for their mother and are alert to any sign or sound indicating her presence. Rejects all forms of substitute care.
2nd stage: Despair: Become quieter and less active and appear to be in a state of mourning.
3rd stage: Detachment. Child becomes livelier and accepts care from staff. Seen as recovering, but when the mother returns, the child seems not to know her and rejects her (for fear of future disappointment). Throughout the Life Cycle Attachment is important throughout the life cycle:
Adolescents break away from parents, but attachment persists.
Independent adults seek attachment in times of crisis.
Older people must rely on younger generations. Being alone is one of the greatest fears in human life People provide each other with a secure base of support. In the healthiest adult partnerships, each partner knows he or she has an unwavering backup, someone who can be trusted to provide emotional support and assistance. Patterns of Attachment Based on Ainsworth's observation of babies and mothers in the Strange Situation 1. Securely Attached Infants: use the mother as a base for exploration when she was present - when she left, they were visibly upset. Upon her return, they remained close until reassured. These mothers were lovingly available to their babies.
Healthy pattern of attachment behavior. 2. Insecure-Avoidant Infants: appear quite independent. Ignored the mother most of the time and upon her return they did not seek proximity to her. Ainsworth saw such children as suffering from some degree of emotional difficulty - similar to children who experienced painful separations. Mothers were relatively insensitive, interfering, and rejecting. As adult, becomes overly self-reliant and detached. 3. Insecure-Ambivalent Infants: clingy and preoccupied with mother's whereabouts that they hardly explored. One moment they may reach for her and the next become increasingly angry at her. Mothers treated children in an inconsistent manner - warm and responsive at times, and not at other times. Often deemed a "resistance" behavior because they desperately seek contact, but resist it. The Disorganized/Disoriented Infant -averted face or frozen stance when mother would walk back into the room. At a loss of how to act - almost afraid. Points to possibility of abuse Adult Attachment Interview Secure/Autonomous speakers: talk open and freely about their own early experiences. Securely attached children.
Dismissing of Attachment speakers: talk as if their own attachment experiences are unimportant. Tend to have insecure/avoidant children.
Preoccupied speakers: still struggling to win parent's approval and love. Own neediness makes it difficult to respond to infant's needs. Practical Applications of the Bowlby/Ainsworth Endeavor Institutional Care Significant awareness with respect to emotional deprivation in orphanages and institutions has been raised. Also, a common practice of rooming-in with a hospitalized child was established. Day Care Many questions arise concerning the day care issue: does it prevent the baby from forming a bond with the parents? What are the effects of daily separation?
Although quality day care is available, parents really need to spend considerably more relaxed and enjoyable time with children. Child-centered Approach to Child Rearing Evolution has provided infants with signals and gestures that promote healthy development, and its wisest to respond to them.
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