An observable reaction to a stimulus by an organism.

Nature v Nurture

Nature is the idea that behaviors are genetic and predetermined.

  • Include life functions.
  • Innate.

Nurture is the idea that behaviors are environmental and come from experiences.

  • Actions that need to be practiced.
  • Learned.


Behaviors that are instinctive and do not need to be practiced.

  • A newborn organism is born knowing how to cry and suckle.

A Fixed Action Plan is an unchangeable action that must be carried out to its finish and is triggered by a sign stimulus.

  • Yawning.
  • Greylag Goose rolls any circular object into the nest because of programmed response to protect eggs that roll away from the nest.


A change in behavior due to experiences.

Also known as maturation: improvement in behavior due to development of neuromuscular system.

  • Birds improvement in flight as it grows.
  • Increase in batting speed in baseball.

Classical v Operant Conditioning

Classical Conditioning is associating 2 unrelated stimuli to yield a specific response.

  • Pavlov's dogs were given food at the same time a bell was rung. The dogs began to salivate because of the food. Pavlov took away the food and the dogs still salivated at the sound of the bell.

Operant Conditioning is the association of a behavior with a reward or punishment. Commonly trial and error learning.

  • A dog or child learning to stay away from ant hills after being bitten.