No-load operation action

as no-load operation action applies within the instinct theory an instinct movement, which was set by an innate release mechanism on, without the observer could prove a key attraction.

The term no-load operation action was introduced by Konrad Lorenz into the classical comparative behavior research. It described a no-load operation action for the first time into the 1930er years due to observations at its by hand drawn up star.

the function of the no-load operation action within the instinct theory of Konrad Lorenz

the Lorenz' instinct theory subordinates a constantly flowing river of action-specific energy (“impulse energy”), to that is causally responsible for a specific action readiness of an animal (for example to the escape, for chase or for mating). Furthermore in the theory it is specified that the action-specific energy increases continuously, if the associated final action is missing, if thus for example no enemy, booty, does not cross no Sexualpartner the way. Rising the action-specific energy (the “excitation”) recognizes the observer by the fact that the animal becomes jerky and for a suitable, releasing attraction situation looks actively (Appetenzverhalten). As example of such Appetenzverhalten a Löwin could be considered, whose last successful hunt longer time is past, so that in it continuously action-specific energy for booty making collects - with the consequence that it wanders therefore from day to day more searching. Lorenz specifies in his instinct theory finally thirdly that when long-term being missing of an adequate attraction situation, thus with a back-up of the excitation, a threshold value degradation arises: The animal reacts with such a impulse rope to always unspezifischere trips with the final action; an example for this would be a dog, which implements its Herrchens for lack of läufiger dogs at the leg or on a cloth clear Begattungsbewegungen.

Since the instinct theory by Konrad the Lorenz according to the action-specific excitation can be lowered only by a specific final action (for example a fleeing, booty seize, sexual intercourse), thus by Ausagieren, the following question arises:

  • How does an animal, which cannot diminish extremely long time a certain action-specific energy, behave?

For this case the theory meets a forecast: The final action will run off then in the no-load operation, thus despite the absence of a provable specific attraction, i.e. without key attraction. When example of such an no-load operation action knows the behavior of a dog is interpreted, that slippers of its Herrchens packs and at the same time its head violently back and forth vibrates - a probably-fed dog, which must never make even booty, shows here “in the no-load operation” a behavior (“dead vibration movement”), which would break in the muzzle immediately the neck to rabbits present.

to the criticism at the concept of the no-load operation action

Konrad the Lorenz has, according to his publications, which first no-load operation action already observes as a high school student with a zahmen star. The by hand fed and therefore full bird flew throughout again and again once from its quiescent place against the ceiling, has in air course-snatched, as if flies would fly there, returned to its quiescent place and full-led there a sip movement. Such anekdotischen animal observations can quite be from scientific interest, if they are made the starting point of a systematic analysis of the observations. In its thorough, critical argument with the instinct theory of Konrad Lorenz came former Bonn behavior biologies Professor. Hanna Maria Zippelius to the conclusion: “In the verhaltenskundlichen literature however no-load operation actions were described as uniquely arising events, observed still in addition without exact data concerning the conditions, by those them.” (Zippelius, S. 70)

Is meant: Depending on, which theoretical concept an observer of animals puts to his investigations at the basis, different consequences for the interpretation of the results can result. For example an observer can proceed from the theoretical basis that a behavior arises and only then if the readiness and the specific environmental situation are given. Observe if he then a behavior, without the specific environmental situation is given, then it must employ considerations whether it described the releasing situation only incompletely. On the basis of the theoretical concept of Lorenz legend an observer however possibly very rapidly that it registered a no-load operation action.

A circle conclusion is precarious at the argumentation of the Ethologen oriented at the Lorenz furthermore: that the observation of no-load operation actions as substantial support of the theory is regarded, particularly in connection with the “Spontaneität” of animal behavior. Actually no-load operation actions are however no support of the theory, but - as represented above - a consequence of the mentioned theoretical basic assumptions (constant river at action-specific energy, Appetenzverhalten, threshold value degradation).

Since the instinct theory lays claim on general validity, thus any behavior of the animals to interpret promises, can finally serious evolution-biological arguments against the concept of the no-load operation action (and thus at the same time against the theory as a whole) be stated: It is directly not comprehensibly, which evolutiven advantage behaviors are to have, those regularly, but arise completely groundlessly and therefore an enormous waste of energies represent.

The incompatibility of the Lorenz' instinct theory with fundamental acceptance of the evolution theory is clearly recognizable, if one leads oneself the example “escape behavior” before eyes, which is counted from the Lorenz to the impulse actions. An animal living under favorable circumstances, that before no enemy to flee must (a cow on the pasture or the mouse in the cat-free barn) regularly to a ball of their internal drives, it would be not longer to the requirements of the environment adapted: Appetenzverhalten would mean in this connection that an animal unreasonable-proved for a releasing situation to look would have, thus after an enemy, in order to be able to flee before it; during threshold value degradation it would have to flee before completely inadäquaten objects, in order not to flee in reverse - if after frequent escape hardly still action-specific energy reserves are present - also before really dangerous objects no more.


see also: Over jump movement, threshold value


  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)