One of the most basic debates revolves around the respective importance of the features and qualities that a child is born with, and those that are acquired from the environment as a child matures in the company of other people. This is known as the nature/nurture debate (Eysenk, 1997, 305-309) and a number of psychologists have devised experiments to try and work this out, so that more can be understood about how a child learns to interact with others, absorbing the rules of society and finding ways to adapt to the demands of school. Clearly if scholars can understand how behaviour is acquired, then they have more chance of finding ways to intervene if problems arise in this process.
Behaviourism is one of the most well-known theories of child development. The Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) conducted some very famous experiments on animals to research the way that learning takes place. He was primarily interested in physiology and his experiment with dogs showed that a random connection between a certain sound, and a reward of food, meant nothing to a dog at first, but with repeated association of the two, the dog could be trained to respond to the tone, in anticipation of the food, so that when the tone sounded, for the dog would salivate, even though there was no food in the room. ...Show more