Over jump movement

over jump movement into the Ethologie a behavior is called, which arises in situations, in which it by the observer is not expected.

Quotation: „These movements seem to be irrelevant in the sense that they arise independently of the context of the directly preceding or following behaviors. “(Nikolaas Tinbergen 1952)

to be interpreted such „mismatching “appearing behaviors for example as signs of a conflict situation, in which the continuation of the before observable behavior - at least occasional - is not possible and is shown instead of its a behavior, which (according to the instinct theory) originates from completely different function circle of the behavior repertoire.

Synonymous one: Over jump (s) action, over jump behavior

table of contents

acquaintance of examples of over jump movements

probably the most frequently aforementioned example refers to observations on equal strong cocks, which out-fight their chopping order with one another: Suddenly one of the two pickt on the soil around, as if he would take up fodder, and frequently the other one follows immediately the model of the rival. This situation is interpreted in the context of the instinct theory developed by Konrad Lorenz as a sign for a equivalent strong combat and escape motivation (actions A and B), which causes Futterpicken “(action C) as over jump movement „. After such „intermediate play “is usually continued the fight.

Of laughter sea gulls - male reports Tinbergen the fact that it - comparably the cocks - interrupts a fight occasionally at the same time and shows the movement way of the grass cropping, without cropping thereby however grass. Grass-crops actual according to Tinbergen - a movement way, which is to be assigned to the function circle of the nest building. It is not a behavior of the fight, and if it arises in this connection, then it is without each function (“irrelevant”) and thus a over jump movement.

A further, often quoted example originates from the reproduction cycle of the Stichlinge: If the female put eggs down, specialized ELT the male at the nest frequently and intensively with his fins. As key attraction for this instinct movement the eggs in the nest are considered. If this Fächeln already arises during the advertisement around a female or during the building of nests (if thus still no eggs are present), then it is arranged as over jump behavior.

further examples:

  • Seeschwalben accomplish finery movements, if they are in conflict between breeding care and escape or escape and attack.
  • Honey bees deseam themselves at the fodder place, if they are in conflict between remaining or visiting a new fodder place.
  • Sleep movements in the conflict between attack and escape implement oyster Fischer before a mirror.
  • Gladly finally also the behavior of Homo is quoted sapiens, which for example occasionally in the car it is shifted at the head scratches if he does not know whether he is to turn after the traffic light on the right of or left. Similarly some behaves a speaker before a larger public, who is on the one hand motivated to address the public on the other hand (particularly with uncertainty) the situation dearest by escape to extract itself would like. As “irrelevant” actions it implements various finery movements: over the hair paint themselves, eyeglasses up and set off, eyeglasses deseam, to which seals pull, dust from the clothes wipe, papers arrange…

models to over jump behavior

over jump hypothesis

of Tinbergen around 1940 developed over jump hypothesis goes out of it that, if “unloading” is not possible for a action-specific excitation, thus the activated instinct, another - however always same - is always then brought out movement sample. According to Tinbergens “instinct teachings” of 1952 show an animal then over jump behavior, “if with very strong impulse… the external situation does not hand, around the final action to release ". This meant in the consequence that according to this model a behavior C is released on the one hand (and usually) by its specific excitation, on the other hand in addition, (as it were by jumping over a “external excitation”) by behavior B to be released can: indeed if behavior B is blocked due to missing key attractions for example and therefore a “excitation back-up” arises.

disinhibiting hypothesis

in contrast to the over jump hypothesis is activated in this explanation model the over jump movement by its own energy. The disinhibiting hypothesis is based on the acceptance that a certain instinct can have a restraining effect on other instincts; if a certain instinct movement straight is accomplished, prevent it all other instinct movements, in order to avoid a constant and Herspringen between different behaviors. The large and acceptance crucial for “functioning” the disinhibiting hypothesis it means that certain instincts can restrain themselves mutually. If their strength is approximately equally large, then mean this that they block themselves mutually completely: Neither the one nor the other instinct movement can occur then. Such an mutual inhibition of two drives has the consequence that an inhibition existing in relation to a third impulse is waived. This third instinct assigned movement samples can step then due to disinhibiting into feature and become as over jump movements interpreted.

Formulates more general (after Bernhard Hassenstein 1980): Propelled A and B restrain each other mutually; Behavior B restrains - if it arises (!) - additionally also the drive for behavior C; since behavior B cannot occur however, so long it is blocked by A, arises to behavior C.

critical notes to the models of the over jump behavior

both models to the over jump behavior can be arranged as original development of the older “psychohydraulischen” behavioral models to more modern models oriented at electrical circuits. The crucial thought all these models was that animal behavior is not purely reactive, as it was maintained into the 1930er years by the Behavioristen, and also no bare succession of reflexes; rather the Spontaneität of the behavior was stressed. One assumed that that it gives spontaneously active nerve cells in the brain, the excitation - energy - to produce and such an animal arrange to show a certain behavior.

Nevertheless it concerns with the model of the over jump behavior an extremely strange construction:

  • all examples of over jump movements are based on the Werturteil which can be met from the observer to, a behavior are “irrelevant” in a certain situation: thus not expediently, a bare interruption of the “actual” action and to that extent “biologically not meaningfully” (the Lorenz 1935);
  • if “with very strong impulse” the external situation of the animal does not hand, “around the final action to release”, one would have to expect during taking as a basis of the Lorenz theory instead of a over jump movement actually compellingly that a no-load operation action arises.

Now each observation is the basis already a theoretical concept, because always one can place oneself the question: Why I observe particularly these things and not all other things, which are also too own to the object. To the over jump hypothesis however it can be objected alone using the Lorenz instinct theory additionally that the theory each instinct movement straight on action-specific (!) Energy leads back - this basic principle of the theory is however given up here: For what however is a theory suited, if it is already immanently contradictory?

As completely useless the concept of the over jump behavior proves also from a rather science-theoretical point of view: There is no measuring procedure, in order to measure from the Lorenz and other postulated fluctuations of a drive sequentially, and already no procedure, in order to seize the intensity of two or three drives at the same time. Only under the criterion of a simultaneous measurability however for example an examination of the disinhibiting hypothesis would be possible. “With it these hypotheses are no more than fantasyful considerations of particulars, those with application of the Lorenz impulse concept “an explanation” of the phenomenon in speech only pretend.” (Hanna Maria Zippelius 1992)

finally that not only the Lorenz and Tinbergen, but also still Klaus Immelmann into the 1980er years represented the view, one as over jump movement classified behavior fulfills “the normal biological function” is not to be pointed out, for it “in the process of master history was developed” (Immelmann 1983, S. 53). This Werturteil can be arranged as a statement unusually anmassende for scientists, particularly since - similarly as with the concept of the no-load operation action - is not comprehensible, which evolutiven advantage behaviors are to have, those regularly, but completely groundlessly to arise and therefore an enormous waste of energies would represent.

As unstimmig the concept of the over jump behavior is, shows itself by the way already with exact reading of the work of Konrad Lorenz. To it quite had been noticeable, “the fact that over jump movements by Ritualisierung signals becomes so extremely frequent which its internal conflict to the kind comrade of the animal admits gives. It is not almost heavy to find examples from over jump movements to those signal effects unfolds… “(the Lorenz 1978, S. 202f). If however these so-called over jump movements are social signals, then they have quite a function in the context, in which they are observed. “Unexpected are them then only for the observer, who does not understand them, i.e. it not to interpret can. “(Zippelius 1992)

the example of the fighting cocks (pickt of those one suddenly on the soil around, as if it would take up fodder), mentioned above, can for example very plausibly as social signal be interpreted, which possibly indicates to the rival: look, I feel so strong that I can take up fodder in this precarious situation still.


  • hating stone, Bernhard: Instinct, plays, learning insight. Introduction to behavior biology. Munich, 1980.
  • Immelmann, Klaus: Introduction to the behavior research. Berlin: 3. Aufl. 1983
  • Lorenz, Konrad: The Kumpan in the environment of the bird. Journal for Ornithologie the 83 (1935)
  • Lorenz, Konrad: Comparative behavior research. Bases of the Ethologie. Vienna, New York: 1978
  • Tinbergen, Nikolaas: Derived of activities: their causation, biological significance, origin and emanzipation during evolution. Quart. Rev. Biol. 27, (1952), 1-32
  • Zippelius, Hanna Maria: The presumptuous theory. A critical argument with the instinct theory of Konrad Lorenz and verhaltenskundlicher research practice. Braunschweig: 1992, S. 249 FF. ; ISBN 3-528-06458-7

see also: No-load operation action, innate release mechanism


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