The persistence of dichotomies in the study of behavioral development

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Timothy Johnston, Dean (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The inadequacies of dichotomous views of behavioral development that oppose learned and innate behavior, or genetic and environmental determinants of behavior, have long been recognized. However, they continue to exert a powerful influence on current thinking about development, often by way of metaphors that simply recast these old ideas in a more modern technical vocabulary. The idea that the information for behavior can be attributed to either genetic or environmental sources was originated by Lorenz and provides the basis for many current dichotomous accounts of behavioral development. Lorenz's "sources of information" metaphor for development is fundamentally flawed, however, as are those more recent accounts that are based on it. The alternative interactionist account of development, most clearly articulated by Lehrman, is a far more powerful and coherent theoretical framework for development, but it has not been broadly assimilated into psychology and continues to be widely misunderstood. In particular, the interactionist account does not involve a radical environmenta-lism, does not attribute all behavior to the effects of learning, and does not interpret development as a gene-environment interaction. The attractive simplicity of dichotomous thinking encourages its continued application to the study of development despite the fact that it is clearly inadequate to the complexities of developmental analysis.

Additional Information

Developmental Review, 7:149-172
Language: English
Date: 1987
Behavioral development, Dichotomies

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