Behavior and Evolution by Jean Piaget

By Jean Piaget

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4. The two problems we have just discussed have to be formulated rather differently according to the type of variation under consideration, however, so let us now review the different kinds of variations in the context of the formation of behavior. A first distinction is that between quantitative and qualitative variations. Quantitative variations consist simply in the strengthening or weakening of a given trait. , the work ofBovet and others), or in degrees of aggression, or affectivity, or motor activity, and so on.

2. , p. 194. 3. Baldwin, "A New Factor in Evolution," American Naturalist ( 1896), p. 553· 4. Baldwin, Le diveloppement mental chez l'enfant et dans la race ( 1897), p. 181. ] 5. , p. 182. 6. Baldwin, Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development (1897). 7. Ibid. 8. Baldwin, Diveloppement mental, p. 186. 9. Baldwin, "A New Factor," section 4, p. 449. THREE The Ethological View of Behaviors Role in Evolution IN THE CONTEXT ofh~ ideas on natural selection, Darwin naturally attributed a great deal of importance to behavior as a factor in survival and in the reproduction of the species; but, aside from his interest in the phylogenetic sources of emotional expression, he never really studied habits and instincts in detail.

From the fact that every pattern of action-and thus of assimilation as just defined-allows for a greater or lesser number of possibilities of accommodation (according to its "reaction norm," to borrow a well-known biological term), it follows that such a pattern's maintenance, unlike that of physiological (chemical or energetic) assimilation, does not call for stability. On the contrary, it can only tend to be reinforced as long as survival is not threatened. Behavior is not centered on survival.

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