Baldwin effect – Wikipedia

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Baldwin effect

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Baldwin effect compared to Lamarck’s theory of evolutionDarwinian evolution, and Waddington’s genetic assimilation. All the theories offer explanations of how organisms respond to a changed environment with adaptive inherited change.

In evolutionary biology, the Baldwin effect describes the effect of learned behavior on evolution. In brief, James Mark Baldwin and others suggested during the eclipse of Darwinism in the late 19th century that an organism’s ability to learn new behaviors (e.g. to acclimatise to a new stressor) will affect its reproductive success and will therefore have an effect on the genetic makeup of its species through natural selection. Though this process appears similar to Lamarckian evolution, Lamarck proposed that living things inherited their parents’ acquired characteristics. The Baldwin effect has been independently proposed several times, and today it is generally recognized as part of the modern synthesis.

“A New Factor in Evolution”

The effect, then unnamed, was put forward in 1896 in a paper “A New Factor in Evolution” by American psychologist James Mark Baldwin. The paper proposed a mechanism for specific selection for general learning ability.

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