Natural selection affects innate behaviors such as reflexes, modal action patterns and general behavior traits. The difference between reflexes and modal action patterns is that a reflex, the relationship between a specific event and specific response, only affects individual muscles and glands.  Modal action patterns are an orderly sequence of reflex behaviors and affect the entire being.  Researchers have argued that modal action patterns no longer exist in human beings as there is such variation across the behavior of the species.  The role of genes in human behavior is defined as behavior traits (Chance 2008).


Natural selection helps species adapt to change across generations but does not help living beings cope with fast environmental change. When individuals need to modify their behavior to adapt to new and changing environments they must learn.   Learning indicates a change in behavior and takes place through experience to events i.e. stimulus.  Learning is essential for survival. Chance (2008 p 24) states that “learning takes up where reflexes, modal action patterns and general behavior leave off”.


Evolution, the change in traits of a population over a period of time is influenced by natural selection and adaptive behaviors. If a species cannot learn and adapt within its environment then it would not survive. There is an interaction of genetics and the environment to mold behavior and ensure survival and reproduction of the species. Genes and learning form equal parts of the same continuum.


Chance, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth Cengage Learning