Behaviours not dependent on learning

As opposed to behaviours learned via learning theories, some behaviours can be acquired without learning. Fixed action patterns, reflex actions, and behaviour dependent on maturation are all examples of behaviours not dependent on learning.

Fixed action patterns

A fixed action pattern is an inherent predisposition to behave in a particular way. Fixed action patterns are complex behaviours relevant to every individual member of a particular species. For example, each individual of a particular species of bird may know intuitively at what time of year to migrate without learning that behaviour.

Reflex actions

A reflex action is an involuntary and automatic response to a particular stimulus. Reflex actions do not require past experience or knowledge, and are often used for survival. For example, an individual will automatically blink when there is dust in one’s eye. This is an involuntary response to potentially hazardous stimuli.


Maturation is a sequential process dependent on development rather than learning. It involves a universal sequence of changes in the body and the mind that allow the individual to gradually complete more tasks. For example, a toddler cannot run until they have walked, or until they are physically capable of doing so. This is a behaviour dependent on maturation rather than learning.