Instinct behavior

instinct behavior designates an innate complex behavior, which is composed of against each other definable basic modules of the behavior within the “physiological theory of the instinct movement “: the instinct movements; another word for instinct movement is hereditary co-ordination. Instinct movements in accordance with that for the first time 1937 of Konrad Lorenz formulated theory released by a key attraction and can so long run off, how an internal action readiness is present.

Synonymous one for action readiness: Motivation, impulse, drive, tendency, urge, tendency.

“components” of the instinct behavior

instinct behavior (more exact: an instinct movement) consists after the Lorenz of from each other independent partial elements, of innate recognizing of a releasing situation (see. Key attraction), an activation mechanism ( the innate release mechanism), a movement component and a specific internal drive for the movement component (of the Lorenz imported under the designation action-specific excitation).

The behavior must fulfill four criteria, in order to be considered as innate and thus as instinct behavior:

There must

  • be stereotyped, (whereby nondirectional Appetenz can be very variable)
  • with all copies of a kind arise, (as a function of the ripe condition)
  • also with isolate drawn up copies of this kind arise (special case: ), And also
  • with copies arise to coinage, which were prevented before from the practice of the behavior figure.

Three phases are frequent with an instinct behavior completely running off:

  1. The basis of a instinct-led action is the nondirectional Appetenzverhalten, which is understood in the context of the instinct theory as search for certain key attractions. A condition is a selective perception of the environment sensitized for certain attractions and an activated action readiness.
  2. With perception of the looked for key attraction and with appropriate action readiness an arranged Appetenzverhalten ( taxi, orientation movement) finds, an adjustment on the object.
  3. This movement leads to further key attractions, which release in the long run the final action. With success (e.g. Catch a booty animal) lowers the carried out final action the action readiness. It always runs off on equal way and cannot no more be interrupted.

“Control” by the action readiness makes an abort of the original behavior and the transition possible to another behavior, if the internal or outside conditions change. Example: A bird on food search will interrupt these, if it is threatened by a cat.

Instinct movements can occur to the theory according to with very different strength: of their full development up to only suggested movements, which are understood as intention movements. Also of the representatives of the instinct theory movement samples of most different complexity are called instinct movements: with birds for example both scratching and Pickbewegungen and then complicated movement successions like loops of a knot with the building of nests of some birds.


progressive and fundamentally new at this concept was into the 1930er-Jahren that animal behavior neither when was purely reactively regarded (as of the Behavioristen) still as chain of rigid reflexes, but that also internal changes in status - thus the Spontaneität of the behavior - was charged for. Furthermore the view toward innate, ererbtes behavior and of its plasticity was particularly directed.

Today the instinct theory in the research plays hardly still another role, since the brain research could find so far no physiological correspondence for postulated action-specific excitation. Whether this is to regard rather as lack of the “physiological theory of the instinct movement” or be attributed to still existing experimental inadequacies of the brain research, cannot be decided at present.

see also: Reaction chain, instinct, Ethologie, behavior biology, no-load operation action, over jump movement


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