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Adaptive behavior is anything an animal does that aids its Darwinian fitness, that is, anything that helps it to survive and reproduce. Adaptive behavior comes in two varieties, although the division is not sharp. Reflexes and many “instincts” are built in. For example, a child withdraws his or her hand from the hot fire without instruction, but the same child may have to learn not to touch a hot kettle. The first behavior is the result of natural selection during phylogeny, the evolution of the species. The second is the result of operant conditioning, voluntary behavior modified by its (in this case, painful) consequences during ontogeny, the life of the individual. Operant conditioning is also the result of selection, but selection by positive and ...

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