Douglas Spalding

1 January 2017

Douglas Spalding was the architect of ethology, the scientific study of animal behavior. He started his research in the mid 1800s. His studies discounted British empiricist claims that animal skill regarding depth, distance; perception and sound localization were learned by the animals while they were young. Spalding study of ethology involved the determiner of behavior such as instinct is behavior that is predisposed or shaped by natural selection or innate pre-programmed behavior.

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To address the British empiricist claim that perceptual abilities did not require experience, he conducted an study dealing with instinct. He open a portion of an egg where chicks, baby chickens, not girls, where about to hatch and just before their eyes opened, he opened a piece of the egg, and covered the chicks head with a hood. After removing the hood; the chick showed no effects of not being able to see and was able to locate insects to eat, thus showing innate behavior is extremely valuable in animal behavior and not experience.

Critical period research is learning that occurs at a specific age or life stage. Critical period is behavior that’s developed within a specific time frame. Spalding withheld chicks from the mother for 10 days. The chicks didn’t hear or see their mother for ten days. Spalding introduced the chicks to the calls of the mother; however, the chicks did not recognize their mother. Spalding observation showed at particular stages in life innate behavior is developed with a specific time. Spalding experiments and observations supported the claim that animals innate behaviors not experiences is a determiner of behavior.

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