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Sociobiology

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By anjie03
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Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behaviour has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behaviour within that context. By claiming a more biological route it explains that the behaviour of both humans and animals are due to biological and evolutionary factors. Sociobiology is mostly interested in the evolution of physical structures and is more genetic control orientated therefore differentiating it from evolutionary psychology. The focus on adaptation and reproductive success rather than progress toward perfection is made most clear through the work of sociobiologists like Edward O. Wilson. Adopting a focused approach to the understanding of behaviour on the genetic level, Wilson saw social behaviour as being controlled, in principle, by particular genes. Evolution and human behaviour from a sociobiologists view point occurs as a result of genetic determinism, reflexes, habituation, Fixed Action Pattern’s (FAP’S) and complex social behaviour.

Sociobiologists would argue that just as selection pressure led to animals evolving advantageous ways of interacting with the natural environment, selection pressure also led to the genetic evolution of beneficial social behaviour.. Take for intense a sociobiologists view on genetic determinism. Genetic determinism is the belief that genes and environmental conditions, determine specific structural features and behavioural phenotypes or observable characteristics of an organism. By using genetic determinism Sociobiology states that we are hardwired to perform certain behaviours. How this is done is through transference the passing on of genes from on generation to another. In a stimulus response scenario our genes would act as a blueprint which would be then relay and acted open physical dependent about what was passed on through our genotype. It is then appropriate to say a sociobiologists would postulate that it is as if ( add to). In understanding this it is then important to understand why genetic variability is then understood by sociobiologists to be the basis of evolution. In picking out the individuals more likely to survive humans like other organisms attempt to secure their survival over all others and to do this specific behaviour are the hardwired to result in the best outcome.

Reflexes have also be utilized by sociobiologists in explaining the sociobiological perspective on human behaviour. Many of our reflexes are related to survival and is one of the most basic forms of elicited behaviour ( textbook). The most simplest survival reflexes can be found in a infant For example, if you touch a baby’s cheek with your finger, the baby will automatically turn his or her head in that direction. This reflex action is designed to facilitate taking feeding. A sociobiologists would be quick to point out that a child who does not root will have a less likely chance of survival. Some types of elicited behaviours are more complex than simple reflex, for instance a fixed action pattern is a set sequence of responses caused by specific stimuli. Many fixed action patterns have a specific stimulus or sign stimulus that sets it in motion can be identified that bring about a response. For example the brain receives a constellation of stimulus which is then processed and brings about a stereotypical set of response. Many animals like the robin will receive stimulus of a change in season like food abundance, longer days, warmer temperature ,mating those stimuli are then used to elicit the resopnse of finding a tree, collecting twigs, weaving a nest, ( lecture)To claim this to be instinctual is seen as incorrect by many sociobiologists as this term implies that the behaviour is more rigid and inflexible than is actually the case. Fixed action patterns are therefore seen adaptive responses in Sociobiology that has evolved to help animals cope with consistent aspects of their environment. The difficulty with such inherited behaviour patterns is that a sudden, large-scale change in the environment may render the pattern useless or even harmful. One difficulty with such hardwired behaviour patterns is that a sudden changes in the environment may reduce the pattern usefulness and may become even harmful. Textbook points out the inherit tendency of a deer to run in a zigzag pattern when pursued by a predator. This action is used to confuses the predator and aide in increasing the deer’s chances of survival ; by default, this same action greatly impedes a deer chance survival when it is on highway with automobiles and is then render maladaptive.

The repeated presentation of a stimulus can alter the strength of the elicited behaviour. An animal that can modify its behaviour patterns through learning can adapt to a changing environment, this shows that the ability to learn was an important evolutionary advancement and is used by sociobiologists as a response to critics on the theory.
Habituation is a decrease in the strength of an elicited behaviour following repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus. Habituation can be seen across species, this suggests from a evolutionary perspective that these processes probably have tremendous survival advantages. In a sense, they help us sort information in our environment into two basic categories: currently relevant perhaps even dangerous we become sensitized and currently irrelevant which we tend to habituate to it as it posses no significant immediate threat to our self. ( lecture) This there by substantiates the claim by sociobiologists that certain mechanisms like habituation and sensitisation were at some point relevant to survival and there for can be used to explain human behaviour in many given situations.

Complex and social behaviour

What is important to note about the research guided by these theoretical principles used in explaining human behaviour is best explained in terms of underlying psychological mechanisms that are adaptations used solving a particular set of problems that humans and animals faced at one time in our ancestry. Many sociobiologists maintain that the mechanisms that bring about specific behaviour are a product of adaptation and selection. Other sociobiologists emphasize the cross animal validity of their results, claiming consistency in responses across a wide variety of animal populations Though stimulus and response actions may be prevalent in a wide variety of subject animal populations, this says nothing about whether or not the all psychological mechanisms arose from a particular selective regimen. Sociobiologists generally responded to criticisms such as the above mentioned by pointing to the complex relationship between nature and nurture. Having said this one must address the insistency of sociobiologists on solidifying the origin of at least some behaviour in universal human genetic predisposition; which run contrary to emphases on the importance of culture itself as a determinant of human social life and behaviour.

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