International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 1 Num. 1 - June 2001


Three Types of Selection and Three Centuries [Tres Tipos de Selecci?n y Tres Siglos]

Volume 1 Num. 1 - June 2001 - Pages 1-10


A. Charles Catania , ,


This presentation considers the concept of natural selection as it applies to the behavioral and biological sciences in three centuries. The nineteenth century provided Darwin?s application of natural selection to the evolution of species. The twentieth century saw the extension of this principle to behavior within the lifetime of the individual organism in ontogenic selection, as in Skinner?s analysis of operant behavior. It follows from ontogenic selection that a third level of selection must operate whenever behavior can be passed on from one individual to another. This occurs to some extent in imitation and observational learning, but its most obvious development is in human language. This level of selection has been called cultural selection, and its implications and applications are ripe for analysis. Accounts in terms of the other varieties of selection have met resistance in their centuries and continue to meet resistance today. A reasonable prediction is that the significance of ontogenic selection will at last be fully recognized and the scope and implications of cultural selection will begin to be tested in the twenty-first century.

Key words:

Natural selection, Ontogenic selection, Cultural selection

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