Is walking an instinctive behavior or a learned behavior?
Walking is both an instinctive and a learned behavior! In some animals, walking is instinctive. Many quadrupedal animals are up and walking around (with a little nudge from their mothers) within hours of birth. Even some facultative bipeds, like penguins, are able to walk without teaching. In humans, walking, like most of our behaviors, is learned. Babies may begin to push themselves up into a crawling position and move about on all fours without any teaching by a parent, but it requires more assistance to get started moving on just two feet. For humans, learning to walk is a gradual process of learning balance and developing muscle strength so that support may be slowly removed.
Some case studies of delayed or inhibited development in humans can offer insight into the human process of learning how to walk. Though few examples are available which document children being left to "figure out" walking on their own without help--to do so would be cruel neglect--we can consider cases like that of Genie Wiley. Genie was kept in extreme isolation throughout childhood and not allowed to walk, spending most of her time in a crib or potty chair. Because Genie was physically prevented from walking, she did not know how to when she was rescued at age thirteen. Psychologists wondered if she would ever learn to communicate with verbal language, walk, or care for herself. Though Genie's language capacity was diminished because she had not been engaged in language in early childhood (the prime language-learning years), she was able to learn to walk, though apparently uncomfortably.
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