NATURE AND NURTURE IN SKINNER’S BEHAVIORISM

Bryan O. Midgley, Edward K. Morris

Abstract


Behavior analysis has been characterized as falling exclusively on the nurtttre side of the nature-nurture dichotomy. An examination of Skinner’s behaviorism, however, reveals that it acknowledges both nature and nurture as determinants of behavior. Skinner did reject explanations of innate and acquired behavior in terms of instincts and habits, arguing instead that innate and acquired behavior are a function of selection by conseqUences--phyLogenic and ontogenic contingencies. He distinguished these contingencies themselves in three ways: according to their temporal relation to behavior, their consequences, and what they select. Phylogenic contingencies correspond to the evolutionary history of the species, they work their effects through the survival and proCreation of the species, and they bridge past and present via genes. Ontogenic contingencies, in contrast, contribute to the behavioral history of an Individual, they work their effects through the reinforcement of behavior, and they bridge past and present via nongenetic biological factors. The variables of which innate and acquired behavior are a function--phylogenic and ontogenic contingencies--represent Skinner’s version of the nature-nurture dichotorny.


Keywords


nature-nurture, Skinnerian behaviorisrn, innate and acquired behavior, phylogenic and ontogenic contingencies, instinct and habit

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5514/rmac.v1.i2.27095


Editor in Chief:

Dr. Carlos J. Flores-Aguirre

editor_general@rmac-mx.org

ISSN: 0185-4534

ISSN Electrónico: 2007-0802