Synthesizing Nature-Nurture: Prenatal Roots of Instinctive Behavior

Synthesizing Nature-Nurture: Prenatal Roots of Instinctive Behavior

Synthesizing Nature-Nurture: Prenatal Roots of Instinctive Behavior

Synthesizing Nature-Nurture: Prenatal Roots of Instinctive Behavior

Synopsis

This volume provides a primarily nontechnical summary of experimental and theoretical work conducted over the course of 35 years which resulted in a developmental framework capable of integrating causal influences at the genetic, neural, behavioral, and ecological levels of analysis. It describes novel solutions to the nature-nurture problem at both the empirical and theoretical levels. Following field observations, laboratory experiments led to the discovery of the nonobvious prenatal experiential basis of instinctive behavior in two species--ground-nesting mallard ducklings and hole-nesting wood ducklings. This work also describes the experiences that lead to the rigid canalization of behavioral development as well as the social and sensory experiences that favor the continuance of flexibility. The author also describes in detail a developmental psychobiological systems view that supports a behaviorally and psychologically mediated pathway to evolutionary change in humans and other species. Written in a way that is readable to even the nonspecialist, the text is accompanied by numerous photographs that illuminate and add personal meaning to the written words. Readers will be engaged by the emphasis on the human aspect of the scientific enterprise.

Excerpt

The Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta inaugurated the MacEachran Memorial Lecture Series in 1975 in honor of the late John M. MacEachran. Professor MacEachran was born in Ontario in 1877 and received a PhD in Philosophy from Queen's University in 1905. In 1906 he left for Germany to begin more formal study in psychology, first spending just less than a year in Berlin with Stumpf, and then moving to Leipzig, where he completed a second PhD in 1908 with Wundt as his supervisor. During this period he also spent time in Paris studying under Durkheim and Henri Bergson. With these impressive qualifications the University of Alberta was particularly fortunate in attracting him to its faculty in 1909.

Professor MacEachran's impact has been significant at the university, provincial, and national levels. At the University of Alberta he offered the first courses in psychology and subsequently served as Head of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology and Provost of the University until his retirement in 1945. It was largely owing to his activities and example that several areas of academic study were established on a firm and enduring basis. In addition to playing a major role in establishing the Faculties of Medicine, Education, and Law in the Province, Professor MacEachran was also instrumental in the formative stages of the Mental Health Movement in Alberta. At a national level, he was one of the founders of the Canadian Psychological Association and also became its first Honorary President in 1939. John M. MacEachran was indeed one of the pioneers in the development of psychology in Canada.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the MacEachran Memorial . . .

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