LECTURE 4: OCTOBER 2ND, 2012
TOPIC: CHAPTERS 2AND 3—INSTINCT THEORY (pp. 36-39) very important
Early Instinct Theory—provided an entree for ethology.
Ethology, Classical Ethology and Modern Ethology, Sex andAggression Ethology--(pp. 39-57).
➔ Early Instinct Theories--Instinct as explanation for motivated behavior reach popularity
during the later 1800s and early 1900s. Instinct acted as a theoretical bridge between human
and animal. (p. 36)-- definition of instinct can be found.
◦ An instinctual based behavior is inborn, innate, genetically programmed, and it occurs
naturally. This means that it is unlearned. Most vigorous response that occurs without
learning is when the appropriate response is presented, before the critical time or after the
stimulus is weak but during the critical time you react quite vigorously.
◦ Example: you see a bear.Achild would be curious while an adult would show fear because
they have already perceived and understood the circumstances as threatening in terms of
their perception. Our reactions to ordinary events can vary from weak to vigorous
responses. Outside of the sensitive/critical period our response is either weak or nonexistent.
We are prepared to respond to a particular stimulus. How many instincts due humans have,
can they be modified by experience and can they be weakened as we develop and progress?
➔ Nominal Fallacy--Although popular, instincts were found to not be scientifically sound
because merely naming a behavior as this or that instinct does not explain it. Rather, it is
necessary to specify the conditions under which behavior occurs, to arrive at a cause-effect
◦ Name cause, introduce cause and see if effect occurs. Examining cause-effect relations can
lead to better reasoning and understanding.
➔ William James-- Instincts are similar to reflexes in that they occur blindly; meaning
automatically without knowledge or end or goal. Since every instinct is an 'impulse', it falls
within the province of motivational psychology.
➔ 1) For James, this impulse to action may be inhibited by learned habits, and some instincts are
transitory; only useful during certain developmental periods and eventually become...
◦ Example: bite your tongue, hold your horses → holding back instinct response. Making a
conscious attempt to inhibit and restrain yourself. Holding back your impulse to action in
check. Superego tends to restrain, the ID is an impulsive agency while the Ego is a
reasoning agency and the Superego is the conscious. The ID is unreasonable and irrational
→ part of our personality therefore could be a risk if we are completely ID bound. Example:
think before you speak, look before you leap, think before you act, bite your tongue before
you say something you might regret → we have expressions that when they are generated
they act as an influence that restrains on our action.
➔ 2) Instincts provide a base upon which new behaviors may be built.
➔ 3) Instincts are adaptive and have come about during course of evolution
◦ Self preservation instinct and species preservation instinct. Survival of individual versus
survival of species. Our capacity to learn, harness, and to control is considerable in
comparison to animals.Animals are more controlled by instincts while our instincts are
➔ William McDougall-- Psychology must discover and classify various instincts. Each instinct consists of three components: 1) Cognitive, meaning the knowing aspect that the object can
satisfy, 2) Affective, meaning the feeling an object arouses, and 3) Conative, meaning the strive
toward or away from an object.
◦ Stimulus ResponseAssociationism versus Cognitive Response. To be parsimonious is to
explore a simpler explanation. Scientists strive for correct, parsimonious explanations
because the explanation is less encumbered. Example: what level of cognition are we giving
to rats? Instead of this we use stimulus response because we can identify step by step what
is the stimulus and what is the response and so on in the rat experiment we studied.
Example: psychoanalytic theory is a complex theory therefore not parsimonious. When we
look at explaining our own behaviors are we parsimonious or do we get locked into
complexity? --self reflection (go deeper → more complex). Parsimony forces us to be
◦ Cognitive Process: What else besides a physical object can arouse a feeling? → your
interpretation of the object, a particular context (atmosphere), thinking about the object can
arouse a feeling even when the object is not there, the memory of a prior experience with
the object, another object reminds us of the initial object that is absence, dreaming about the
object, talking about the object → symbolic communication (use words to talk about
objects that are not in the here and now), talking to ourselves, planning how to get the
object, we imagine the object (internal image).Arouses us and provides an impulse.
Example: a child (out of sight out of mind) they only understand the physical object that
they can see and come into contact with not the abstract which is simply talking about it.
◦ Conative Process: our experience may lead us to approach or avoid an object through
processes such as prior experience, imagining, remembering etc.
➔ Thus, every instinct consists of thoughts about the goal object; the emotions aroused by that
object; and purposive striving aimed at reaching that object.
➔ Alteration of instinct in four ways (p. 38 first column)
➔ 1) Instinct may be activated by an object or the idea of an object, and by related subjects.
➔ 2) Movements through which instinctive behavior occurs can be modified, such as curiosity at
first is directed toward the physical environment and later by more intellectual pursuits
◦ Curiosity → motive through play. Intellectual play—mind games. Example: when a child
always asks why even though they may know why. They like to play guessing games such
as “I Spy”. Its a situation where they know the answer and you do not. It is striving for
superiority → child is trying to bring you down to size. They like to tell jokes. They like to
ask riddles → reaching a level of intellectual maturity which they turn into riddles and jokes
→ power motivation → I can understand something you the adult do not. Child assumes the
role of knowing since up to this point the adult was always the one with all the answers.At
what point in cognitive development can a child engage in deception on purpose?
◦ Strategic Interaction → teens engage in particular mind games to seem on top (more
competitive). Example: why were you late? Teen says oh my dog made me late and each
day the teen adds on to the story for why he/she is late → elaborate explanation (then the
dog ran and then the neighbor came over...). You complicate the exchange with the
irrelevant. You confuse the other individual and then the subject is dropped because you
talked for so long. Intentionally avoiding confronting a particular