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Jen Benson's picture

One of the issues raised in

One of the issues raised in class is that the behavior of choice may potentially be explained by central pattern generators which are activated in response to certain situations, with some central pattern generators serving an inhibitory role in suppressing certain responses in the presence of specific environmental factors, like in the example with the sea slug (?) with claws. This example was particularly helpful for me because it illustrates how the nervous system affects behavior in one respect by responding to environmental input. What the slug lacks, I think, that is present, in humans, however, is individual differences in personality, that can also affect choice. As I’ve written in other posts, some personality variables have been researched at length, such as neuroticism, openness, extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. People tend to show consistency in these variables over time, and such factors have been reliably linked to certain behavioral tendencies. Research into the roots of these individual differences (comparing twins raised apart and together) generally supports the view that roughly 50% of the variability in them is due to heritability, and 50% is due to the environment.
Another factor affecting behavior is the power of the social situation. A whole branch of psychology (social psychology) has illustrated how people’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions are intimately tied to the real or perceived presence of others. Perhaps the crab/slug(?) would behave differently as well in response to being bopped on the claws in the presence of other crabs. Maybe some central pattern generators are linked to specific social situations that activate them.
Both these factors that influence behavior, the social and physical environment, and genetically and environmentally shaped personality variables, also suggest mechanisms that can substitute for our current understanding of choice.

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