ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences

Behavior: Biological Explanations

Updated on May 20, 2012
Source

Biological explanations of behavior will fall into one of four categories: physiological, functional, ontogenetic, and evolutionary. Normal behavior or commonsense behavior does not fall into any of these categories. For example someone does something, such as eats icecream, that is a "want to". However, those things that are not explained, such as why someone yawns or why a bird flies south for the winter without thinking about it. These things fall into one of the categories listed above.

Source

Physiological Explanation

The Pysiological explanation relates the behavior to an activity of the brain or other organs. It correlates with the mechanics of the body. The chemical reaction that allows hormones to trigger brain activity and the path by which brain activity controls the movement of muscles through contractions would fall into this category.

Source

Functional Explanation

A functional explanation defines or elaborates why a behavior evolved in the way that it did. Within a small population a gene that spreads by pure accident is called a genetic drift. At times one dominant male, such as an african lion, has a large number of offspring and spreads all of his genes. The larger the population or community the less impact or powerful the genetic drift is. A functional explanation can pinpoint the advantage.

Another example would be a species that can change his color to match his surroundings. The functional explanationt to this would be the species can change colors to hide from his predators.

Source

Ontogenetic Explanation:

Ontogenetic explanation describes the development of a behavior or structure. It maps the influences of nutrition, genes, experiences, and the correlations or interactions of these factors in producing behaviors.

In specific species, a young male bird learns songs by listening to the adult males. Being able to develop the song and sing it requires both the genes that make it possible and the chance to hear it early in life when it can be learned. This would be an example of Ontogenetic Explanation.

Baird's Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper | Source

Evolutionary Explanation:

This explanation looks at a behavior or structure by way of evolutionary history. When a cat becomes frightened it's hairs will stand up on it's body. When a person becomes frightened they get goosebumps. This erection of hairs makes an animal look larger to its predator. This leads to the belief that our ancestors were hairier and thus our goosebumps were at one time a defense mechanism where hairs would stand out just as the cats does.

An exmaple of this type of explanation would be when a species of birds has a song that sounds almost identical to that of another type of bird of a different species. Baird's sandpipers and dunlins are two different types of shorebirds, but both give their calls in distinct pulses, not like any other shorebirds. This relation suggests that the two types of birds evolved from a single ancestor.

Summary

We can understand behavior much better when we can combine as many approaches as possible. It's important to understand the body mechanisims that bring about the behavior, how it comes about in the individual, how it has evolved, and to what function it serves. Knowing how each explanation works helps us understand behavior more effectively.

Credits:

Niko Tinbergen (1973, p. 161)

Tinbergen (1951)

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Siddhant Goyal 19 months ago

      So what exactly is the difference between an evolutionary and a functional explanation?

    • libby1970 profile image
      Author

      libby1970 6 years ago from KY

      Thanks dahoglund. My degree is in science. I have always enjoyed it so much. This hub is actually just scratching the surface. I'll be doing much deeper hubs but am doing the basic stuff on synapses and neurons...things of that nature. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I have studied behavioral psychology in college but did not get this deep into the biology of it. Interesting hub.

    • libby1970 profile image
      Author

      libby1970 6 years ago from KY

      Thank you prasadjain. I appreciate the comment. It does take research and a science background. I love science and it's my life. Thanks again.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 6 years ago from Tumkur

      A useful hub. It takes time to plan and produce articles like this.

    • libby1970 profile image
      Author

      libby1970 6 years ago from KY

      Thanks psychicdog.net. I appreciate your comment. Some people's behavior I don't think can fall in any category--lol

    • psychicdog.net profile image

      psychicdog.net 6 years ago

      Nicely little summary Libby. Next time I'm people watching I'll think of what category their behaviour stems from but I'll also wonder why I'm thinking about the categories in the first place! Where does that behaviour come from! LOL

    • libby1970 profile image
      Author

      libby1970 6 years ago from KY

      Thank you gipsiecrone. I appreciate that. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

    • gipsiecrone profile image

      Martha Bowman 6 years ago from presently St Augustine, FL

      I enjoy your writing and would love to see some of your poetry or other writings Good luck

    • libby1970 profile image
      Author

      libby1970 6 years ago from KY

      Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • daisyflowrs profile image

      daisyflowrs 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I will have to read this to my son later. He will love it too! Great hub!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)