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Brigandt Ingo | Junior Fellow
2002-05-01 - 2002-07-31 | Research area: EvoDevo
The Instinct Concept of the Early Konrad Lorenz

Peculiar to Konrad Lorenz's view of instinctive behavior is his strong innate-learned dichotomy. Lorenz maintained that there are neither ontogenetic nor phylogenetic transitions between instinctive and experience-based components of behavior. This is a position that contradicted all former and contemporary accounts when Lorenz developed his approach to instinctive behavior; and after the second world war it lead to a big controversy with (American) developmental psychologists.

The present project addresses the question as to how and why Lorenz came to held this controversial position by examining the history of Lorenz's early theoretical development in the crucial period from 1927 to 1937. The aim is to determine Lorenz's conceptual and theoretical development by means of published and unpublished historical sources. This early history of Lorenz's ideas helps to highlight the methodological and conceptual steps that Lorenz took (in contrast to many other animal psychologists), and which brought about his specific position on instinctive behavior.