Behaviour is learned or inherited

Describe what each study tells us about how behaviour is learned or inherited. Milgram’s study tells us that our behaviour is strongly influenced by people in Authority. It shows that even if people don’t want to act in a certain way, they do because they are simply obeying orders. Milgram’s results for his experiment were shocking and showed that people were prepared to carry out horrific actions if they were instructed by people in authority. The study implies that behaviour is learned because our decision to act in a certain way would be influenced by external factors.

Deregowski’s study investigates how different cultures perceive pictures differently. From his study Deregowski concluded that that the majority of people in western countries are 3D perceivers and the majority of people in LEDC’s are 2D perceivers. This suggests that some culture perceive things differently because of the surroundings they have been brought up in. For example if a black baby from one of the tribes in South Africa was brought to England, at the age of 2 months and raised here, the child will grow up to be a 3D perceiver.

This is because the child will be used to watching T.V, using technology designed for 3D perceivers and will constantly be surrounded with paintings, pictures and images where depth cues are always present. This suggests that the way people perceive things isn’t dependent on their genes because if this was the case, an African child couldn’t be taught to be a 3D perceiver. This shows that the way people perceive things depends on their surrounding i.e. the Nurture debate.

Gould’s study tells us that different cultures around the world have different I.Q scores due to their genetic differences i.e. a person’s intelligence depends on the person’s country of origin- the nature debate. Gould found that blacks had a very low I.Q scores as did many countries of Eastern Europe and therefore there races were classed as being inferior to all other races. This theory of intelligence difference found from genes wasn’t proven as there were many other factors that could have affected how well different races did in the I.Q test.

The experiment was meant to measure native intellectual ability (intelligence unaffected by culture and educational opportunities) but clearly it didn’t. The experiment had a cultural bias as a person who stayed longer in the USA scored better points so it was obviously affected by culture. Even though Gould claimed that the experiment measured Native Intellectual ability (the Nature debate) it was clear that the results a person attained in a test was affected by culture and educational opportunities. So the test was actually measuring how well the participants absorbed information from everyday life in an American culture.

The Gardner and Gardner experiment is a good example of how behaviour is learnt as opposed to being inherited. Gardner and Gardner attempted to teach a chimp (Washoe) American Sign Language (ASL) so that communication between the chimp and humans could take place. Gardner and Gardner put Washoe into a different environment to what Washoe is used to and to an extent treated Washoe like a human e.g. Washoe had to brush her teeth every day.

She was taught different signs and was encouraged to use sign language using various different methods. Washoe couldn’t use ASL before the experiment began but after 4 years, Washoe could use 132 signs. This is a good example of how anything can be taught how to do a certain thing (if they have the physical and mental apparatus to do so) if they are put in the correct environment. This study proves the Nurture debate correct. Comment on the problems Psychologists have when they investigate whether behaviour is learned or inherited.

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