If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:9:25

Operant conditioning: Innate vs learned behaviors

Video transcript

Innate behaviors, also known as instincts, versus learned behaviors-- and the main differences is an innate behavior is a behavior that's performed correctly the first time an animal or a human performs it in response to a stimulus. It's something that they innately possess. Another name for an innate behavior is an instinct, which is a more common word that people are familiar with. Learned behaviors, on the other hand, are behaviors that are learned through experience. So I've already written down some of the most common types of innate and learned behaviors. And when it comes to innate behaviors I had split them up into what I consider simple behaviors versus complex behaviors. The three types of simple innate behaviors are reflexes, taxis, and kinesis. And let's consider them in the context of a spotlight shining bright. So here we have a spotlight and you can see it shining bright in your eye. If you have a spotlight shined directly in your eye, your natural response is to squint or to blink. And blinking is a kind of a reflex, because no one ever taught you how to blink. It was just a behavior that comes naturally since the day you were born. Taxis is a type of movement where an organism either goes towards or away from a stimulus. But it's a purposeful movement. If you've ever lit a candle at night and noticed a lot of bugs flying towards it, that's a form of taxis. Because as a purposeful movement, the flies and bugs are flying towards the stimulus of the candle. So I'll write here bugs flying to light. Kinesis, on the other hand, is a random movement. In using the example of the spotlight, if you were to turn on the spotlight in a dark room and there's a group of rats on the floor-- they might respond to the stimulus of this light by randomly scurrying in different directions. And that's kinesis, because it's a random movement in response to a stimulus. They're not trying necessarily to move towards the light or away from the light. They're just trying to move. So I'll write here-- rats scurrying. Now, people often get confused with the terms taxis and kinesis because they say it has to do with movement in response to a stimulus. And since taxis can be either towards or away from a stimulus, it sounds an awful lot like kinesis. But you have to remember, taxis is a purposeful movement. Being purposeful, it's either going towards or away for a reason. And if you say the word taxis a different way, at least the way it's spelled, you could say taxis. And if you ever get into a taxi you expect it to purposefully move in a particular direction. At least we hope. Kinesis, on the other hand, just has to do with random movement. So if you wanted to purposefully get somewhere, would you rather take a taxi or a kinesis? I don't know what that would be. So those are the symbol innate behaviors. When it comes to complex behaviors, you have things like fixed action patterns, migration, and circadian rhythms. So for complex behaviors let's put this in the context of a bird. So here we have our bird. And a fixed action pattern is a more complex type of innate behavior. It's an instinct. But this complex behavior is already ingrained in the animal. So a really common example of fixed action pattern is like a mating dance. You've probably heard of birds that perform these mating dances to attract mates. And these dances are just fixed types of behaviors that they already know how to do that attract a mate. Migration is another complex behavior. And you can think of it as, in context of birds, as birds flying south for the winter. So migration is another complex form of an innate behavior. And then circadian rhythms are kind of your body's biological clock. It regulates things like your sleep-wake cycle. If you've ever been jet lagged, that's when your circadian rhythm was knocked out of whack. So in context of a bird, you could say, a bird wakes up naturally in the morning very early to sing its song. So I'll draw musical notes here. It's a singing bird. So I'll write here, waking up early to sing. So these are the most common innate behaviors. And a learned behavior is a behavior that's acquired through experience. So the most common types of learned behaviors are habituation, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and insight learning. So they're kind of tied together, most of these terms. I'm going to draw a little scenario here. So imagine this is you. And it's your first day of college. And it's your first time living in a dorm room. And of course, you have a roommate who is, let's say, a roommate who's gotten there about a week earlier than you. I don't know why he's bigger, but he is. So this is you. This is your roommate. And if you've ever had the experience of living in a dorm one thing that often happens is people making popcorn will unintentionally burn it. So here we have popcorn. And I'm going to draw smoke here symbolizing the burnt popcorn. What happens when the popcorn burns is it sets off fire alarms. So here's a fire alarm. And we'll say the fire alarm is ringing off loudly. So this being your first day in this dorm room, you hear this loud fire alarm and you freak out. But your roommate, who's been there for a week, barely even flinches. That behavior of barely even flinching is a form of habituation. And the way you can think of habituation is it's a decrease in or end of a response to a stimulus. So the fact that your roommate didn't even react to that stimulus of the fire alarm ringing off loudly is a form of habituation. Now the next term here is classical conditioning. And classical conditioning can kind of be summed up as one stimulus being associated with a second stimulus that produces a particular response. So the fact that you freaked out to the sound of a fire alarm is a form of classical conditioning. And really, if you think of it, it's natural to be afraid of fire. No one had teach you to be afraid of fire because it's naturally scary. It naturally induces fear. Now a fire alarm, on the other hand, isn't dangerous like a fire. But you, in this case, reacted to the fire alarm in the same way you would kind of react to a fire. That's because a fire alarm here represents or has been associated with the stimulus of a fire. And so you respond in a similar way. So that's classical conditioning. Now, operant conditioning is a kind of learning in which the consequences that follow some behavior either increase or decrease the likelihood of that behavior occurring again. So while this fire alarm is ringing off, your roommate's telling you, don't worry. I can smell the popcorn burning. And he says, don't bother going out because the RAs in your dorm never write anyone up anyway. So he knows he doesn't have to go outside because he won't get in trouble, based off of his prior experience. And that's a kind of operant conditioning. So insight learning is a kind of mental process that's marked by the sudden solution to a problem. It's kind of like an aha moment, where you just come up with a solution suddenly. And I couldn't really think of a way to integrate it into popcorn being burnt. But one example is, things like a math equation. So if you were asked to solve a particularly difficult math equation, it might take you some time. But if you suddenly come up with a solution or a way to figure it out, that's insight learning. And that's because you've already learned to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and using those skills to solve the problem. And when you finally have some sort of insight or aha moment on how to solve that problem, that would make it insight learning. And so these are the basic types of learned behaviors. And these are the basic types of innate behaviors. So to summarize, so when it comes to simple innate behaviors, think of a spotlight. When it comes to complex innate behaviors, think of a bird. And finally, when it comes to learn behaviors, learn not to burn your popcorn.