Instinct theory

as instinct theory, more precisely: when „“the representatives of the classical comparative behavior research a total concept designate physiological theory of the instinct movements, with whose assistance all observable can be regarded and as innately interpreted behaviors of the animals under a uniform criterion.

Such a total concept permits it on the one hand, determined in the experiment won observations with other observations in relationship set and connections between completely different phenomena to thereby perhaps discover. On the other hand forecasts and regularities can be derived out in reverse , be given the impact for new questions and experiments from the basic assumptions of a theory. The instinct theory proved since the 1930er-Jahren in this sense as enormously fruitful and in the long run also the Soziobiologie and to the behavior ecology the way prepared.

The large advantage of a comprehensively out-formulated theory is that one can design descriptive models with its assistance. The statements and results of the classical comparative behavior research found straight owing to such models the far over academic subject biology outside to attention and to today entrance into the curricula of our schools.

Table of contents

of models for the explanation of behavior

the psychohydraulische instinct model

Psychohydraulisches Instinktmodell nach K.Lorenz
Psychohydrauli instinct model after K.Lorenz

with this model illustrated Konrad Lorenz 1937 its theory of double quantification: Instinct movements are the result of a spontaneously rising action readiness (water level in the container), which produced action-specific energy (supply) from one in the nervous system are fed. Normally the instinct movement (flowing off water) is released by a key attraction (weight), however only the threshold of sensation (feather/spring, which presses the valve against the discharge opening) to overcome must. Between attraction and reaction mediate finally still another innate release mechanism.

The strength of the internal action readiness of a direct measurement is not accessible, to reaction strength and attraction strength can be however quantitatively determined and permitted thereby a conclusion on the height of the specific action energy.

There is a connection between reaction strength on the one hand and the strength of the attractions and internal factors on the other hand:

  • The stronger an attraction is, all the more strongly precipitates the reaction.
  • The stronger the internal drive is, all the more strongly precipitates the reaction.
  • A very strong attraction can release also with missing motivation a reaction.
  • A very high motivation can release also with missing attraction a reaction.

A longer time not accomplished instinct movement „shifts the organism as a whole in unrest and causes it to look actively for the attraction combinations releasing it. “After the English term appetitive behaviour called Lorenz this behavior Appetenzverhalten.

If this search does not lead to success, as much energy accumulated itself that the action is implemented also without releasing key attraction. This action was described for the first time by the Lorenz and called no-load operation action.

Intention movements are weak reactions, which are released by weak attractions and/or a small driving power. Example: If one approaches a group of sea gulls, which are lined up on a Brückengeländer next to each other, then the next fly up rapidly, far move only further away, still far whip only a little, and still far does not react at all.

Over jump movements are behaviors, which are inappropriate interpreted in conflict situations spontaneously to arise and by the observer as the situation.

1978 revised Konrad Lorenz its model: the supply was replaced by several supplies, which represented endogenous automatic attraction production and additional loading attractions. The weight, which symbolized the key attraction, was replaced by a cup with water, which increases the tank filling and so that opens the valve. In addition, this impulse rope model is considered heut as outdated, since the central acceptance of the action-specific energy could not be verified.

the cybernetic model

Steuerung der Nahrungsaufnahme nach Hassenstein
controlling of food intake after hating stone

Bernhard Hassenstein explains the control of behavior with cybernetic models to 1973 and designs for the illustration of functional diagrams. Example: Behavior control of food intake

The outside attraction of the food (1) is charged regarding the coincidence element (2) with the strength of the motivation. If both enough are high, the behavior of food intake (3) is released. Over a feeler (4) implementing the behavior is acknowledged to the instinct center and the motivation is lowered. By food intake the body substance supplied (5), this increases the controlled variable, the supplying condition. A sensor (6) registers if necessary. the degradation of the supplying condition and announces this to the instinct center, whereupon the motivation rises to food intake again.

notes to the Plausibiltät of the models

the realizations of neuro biology and the brain research assumed clearly in the meantime made that the control of behavior is substantially more complex, as from the Lorenz and Hassenstein.

Precarious at a theory it is besides that always the danger of circle conclusions exists: Then, if it is only examined, what is to be derived from the basic assumptions of the theory, and if the results thereafter in the light of the theoretical acceptance is only interpreted. So Professor has. Hanna Maria Zippelius 1992 for example on it attentively made that the no-load operation action introduced by Konrad Lorenz into the Ethologie on the one hand a direct consequence of the instinct theory is, on the other hand in addition, their confirmation serves. Similarly it behaves with from the Lorenz and other postulated over jump movement.

Professor. Wolfgang rewinding stand, like Zippelius a pupil of Konrad Lorenz, had even already marked 1990: „The action-specific energy proved as modern Phlogiston and the psychohydraulische model despite refined changes as unfit to illustrate the changes in status and readiness in the animal adequately. “A detailed reason remained rewinding stand guiltily, it however by Zippelius was then delivered subsequently.

To consider are finally also the words of Professor. Klaus Immelmann: „Natural may do such a instinct model from the early period of the comparative behavior research - which was frequently forgotten - really only as model is understood. It is able to give by no means a genuine explanation of the underlying procedures and is to only point out that it gives in the behavior over and subordinated instances… “(Klaus Immelmann, 1986)


see also: Behavior biology, instinct, reaction chain


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