Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Biological Preparedness

  • Aimee S. Dunlap
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1301-1


Biological preparedness is a broad explanation for why some associations are learned more easily than others, invoking the evolutionary history of the animal.


Animals appear to learn about some stimuli in the world better than others, and a number of studies have shown that some sets of stimuli seem to be more easily associated than others. Some explanations exist for why this might occur, including ideas of belongingness and preparedness. Biological preparedness was first introduced as a term by Martin Seligman in his seminal paper “On the generality of the laws of learning” (Seligman 1970). As with any trait, learning and behavior in any species are the result of evolutionary processes. Broadly speaking, learning enables an animal to use past experience to inform future behavior. Learning allows an individual to better track a changing environment, and this plasticity forms the foundation of flexible behavior. While the neurological mechanisms underlying...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Missouri – Saint LouisSaint LouisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Oskar Pineno
    • 1
  1. 1.Hofstra UniversityLong IslandUSA