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What Is Instinct In Psychology

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Who Coined The Term The Hero Instinct

What is Self-Preservation? (Instincts)

James Bauer introduced the term the hero instinct in his best-selling book, His Secret Obsession.

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What Is Instinct Theory

According to the instinct theory of motivation, all organisms are born with innate biological tendencies that help them survive. This theory suggests that instincts drive all behaviors. So, what exactly is instinct?

Instincts are goal-directed and innate patterns of behavior that are not the result of learning or experience.

For example, infants have an inborn;rooting reflex that helps them seek out a nipple and obtain nourishment, while birds have an innate need to migrate before winter. Both of these behaviors occur naturally and automatically. They do not need to be learned in order to be displayed.

Instinct In Children: 14 Types

In this article we will discuss about fourteen major types of instincts seen in individuals. The instincts are: 1. Escape 2. Combat 3. Repulsion 4. Parental Instinct 5. Appeal 6. Sex 7. Curiosity 8. Submission 9. Self-Assertion 10. Gregariousness or Herd Instinct 11. Food Seeking 12. Acquisition 13. Constructiveness 14. Laughter.

1. Escape:

Every creature loves its own life, and as a result, whenever its life is threatened by dangerous situation, it makes frantic efforts to save it. Man runs away to save himself on seeing a snake, a lion or any other dangerous creature. Similarly, the deer in the forest run as fast as they can on smelling an approaching lion or tiger; so do rats on becoming aware of the presence of a cat. The tendency to run in fear in order to save ones life is called the instinct to escape. This instinct is sometimes activated on experiencing acute physical pain, the sudden movement of an object or the perception of a strange or mysterious object, since the emotion associated with it is fear.

2. Combat:

The tendency to fight is called the instinct of combat, or pugnacity. The instinct is seen to develop in children at the age of eight or nine, but it is common to all living and conscious creatures. This instinct comes into operation as the natural result of a creatures perception of some threat or harm to itself from any external agency.

3. Repulsion:

4. Parental Instinct:

5. Appeal:

6. Sex:

7. Curiosity:

8. Submission:

9. Self-Assertion:

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The Response To Lorenz

Decades of subsequent research have since taught us to be skeptical of Lorenz’s broad assertions about the origins of behavior. For one thing, head-scratching turns out to be more flexibly produced than Lorenz assumed. Burtt and Hailman, for example, reported that small, young birds typically scratch their heads by moving a leg under a wing. Moreover, some adults will use the overwing method when perching and will switch to the underwing method in flight. Based on these and other observations, they suggested that a bird’s method of scratching depends not on pre-programmed instructions but on the bird’s posture, balance, and center of gravity at any given moment. Terms such as hardwired and innate gloss over the fact that scratching depends on contexton multiple factors acting in real time. By changing context, we reveal how flexible a behavior can be.

Hailman’s perspective is a forerunner to today’s developmental systems approach to the origins of abilities, traits, and behaviors. The striking observation that guides the developmental systems approach is that processessometimes obvious, sometimes subtlegive rise to the emergent properties of each individual’s behavior. DNA plays a critical role in these processes, but does not by itself create traits. Accordingly, instincts are not preprogrammed, hardwired, or genetically determined; rather, they emerge each generation through a complex cascade of physical and biological influences.

How Does The Hero Instinct Work

� Instinct theory definition. Instinct Theory of ...

In James Bauers book His Secret Obsession, he explains that the need to feel like a hero is amplified when a man is in a relationship.;

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Observations On Instinct Theory

The instinct theory suggests that motivation is primarily biologically based. We engage in certain behaviors because they aid in survival. Migrating before winter ensures the survival of the flock, so the behavior has become instinctive. Birds who migrated were more likely to survive and therefore more likely to pass down their genes to future generations.

So, what exactly qualifies as an instinct?

In his book Exploring Psychology, author David G. Meyers suggests that in order to be identified as an instinct, the behavior “must have a fixed pattern throughout a species and be unlearned.”

In other words, the behavior must occur naturally and automatically in all organisms of that species. For example, infants have an innate rooting reflex that leads them to root for and suck on a nipple. This behavior is unlearned and occurs naturally in all human infants.

Doctors often look for an absence of such instinctive reflexes in order to detect potential developmental issues.

William Mcdougalls Instinct Theory Of Motivation

One of the pioneers of the instinct theory is English-born social psychologist, William McDougall, who formed the Hormic Psychology, with hormic meaning animal impulse or urge.

Hormic psychology is based on determined and goal-oriented behaviors that are supposed to be motivated by instincts. These behaviors are spontaneous, persistent, variable, and repetitive. McDougall highlighted the instinctive nature of purposeful behaviors, but also recognized that learning is this ad

According to William McDougalls instinct theory, instincts are composed of three parts:

  • Perception
  • Behavior
  • Emotion

McDougall suggested that human beings have a perceptual predisposition to focus on stimuli that are important to their goals. He listed 18 different instincts including hunger, sex, maternal/paternal instinct, laughter, sleep, migration, and curiosity.

For example, we pay more attention to food odors when our hunger instinct is involved. We are motivated to move towards our goal, such as going to the kitchen and checking the refrigerator if there is food, or checking out the source of food smell.

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Can Instincts Be Controlled

Like all animals, humans have instincts, genetically hard- wired behaviors that enhance our ability to cope with vital environmental contingencies. Any attempt to control human behavior is bound to meet with resistance and disapproval. Unless we can change our behavior, humans are facing the end of civilization.

Managerial Implications Of Evolutionary Psychology

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory on Instincts: Motivation, Personality and Development

Evolutionary psychology offers a theory of how the human mind came to be constructed. And that mind, according to evolutionary psychologists, is hardwired in ways that govern most human behavior to this day. But not all inborn traits are relevant to people trying to manage companiesfor instance, an evolutionary psychologists view on how people are programmed to raise children probably belongs in another article. Several key hypotheses among evolutionary psychologists speak directly to executives, however, because they shed light on how human beings think and feel and how they relate to one another. Lets consider these topics in turn.

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Difference Between Instinct And Intuition

Sometimes I’ve heard people using the term gut feeling rather than their ‘intuition or instinct’ and I’m not sure which one do they mean. So, can both the terms be used interchangeably and simply referred to as a ‘gut feeling’? Is there a real difference between Instinct and Intuition?

  • 3;BenColeAug 15 ’12 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$From context, I assume “instinctive” indicated an ability that one is born with and “intuitive” indicates an ability that is easy to grasp by many.$\endgroup$;user11415

Intuition may be defined as understanding or knowing without conscious recourse to thought, observation or reason.

Intuition is currently understood to be the subliminal processing of information that is too complex for rational thought, e.g. mate choice. The processes that make up intuition are learned, not innate.

Instinct is not a feeling, but an innate, “hardwired” tendency toward a particular behavior. Instincts are automatic reactions to environmental stimuli that cannot be repressed and occur in every individual of a species. The current opinion in psychology is that human beings have no instincts.

A Gut Feeling, according to the reference, arises from intuition.

  • ;cpxApr 22 ’12 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$I think so, cpx. A gut feeling is a sensation. The nature of it could be acquired or instinctual.$\endgroup$

Instinct – a motor response initiated by the body totally controlled by an external stimulus. An instinct is by definition, a behavior.

I Challenge Of Innatenes And Maturation

What does it mean when one says that instincts are innate? To what extent does this kind of statement give us insights regarding the origin and the nature of instinctive behavior?

As per certain theorists, it is quite evident that innate behavior is hereditarily determined and that such behavior is part of the original constitution of the animal.

Further, instinctive behavior originates quite independently of the animals experience and environment.

In addition to this, it is separate from acquired or learned behavior.

Thus, we can say that there are behaviors that meet these criteria in innateness.

However, it does not explain anything about the origin and of the mechanisms underlying such behavior.

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The Ego And The Mind Id Ego And Superego

Freud introduced the structural concept of the human mind in his psychoanalytic theory in 1920. In this, Freud divided the mental apparatus of a human being into three systems: id, ego, and superego.


Id is the oldest part of our mental structure representing the biological foundations of our personality. It is that province of the human mind that consists of instinctual drives, specifically the sexual or libidinal drives.

The fundamental characteristic of the instinctual drives is that they seek immediate satisfaction just like a small child.

Further, such drives function according to the pleasure principle that motivates us to seek tension-reducing activities or pleasure.


Ego, on the other hand, is that part of our mental apparatus that consists of all the conscious states.

It is a modification of the id that appears as a consequence of the direct influence of the external world.

Accordingly, its function is to understand the real world and determine how to act.

Thus, Ego acts as an intermediary between the real world and our id. As a result, it operates based on the reality principle.

In other words, ego performs the executive function of regulating oursexual drives in a way that satisfaction harmonizes with the demands of the real world.

It is the center of reasoning, reality-testing, and common sense. Thus, it can direct strategies that can repress, deflect, and transform unrealistic drives.


Instincts Can Be Exploited

Instinct Theory

Some animals have evolved the capacity to take advantage of the reliable, instinctive behavior of others. Avian brood parasites, including the North American cowbird and the European cuckoo, exploit the parental behavior of other birds and lay their eggs in the hosts nest. The unwitting host feeds the interlopers hatchlings, which are often bigger than its own, and thus may represent a greater releaser of the powerfully instinctive feeding behavior of the parents. The adult brood parasite is literally parasitizing the parental behavior of the host bird, for it exerts no further parental investment in its offspring, leaving them instead in the care of the host.

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The Ethological Approach To Instinct

The modern study of instinct began in the 1930s with the emergence of ethology. Ethology is a subdiscipline of zoology devoted to understanding behavior in its natural context. One of the founders of ethology, Konrad Lorenz, popularized this new discipline for the general public with his many famous images of imprinted ducklings walking behind the bearded Austrian as if he were their mother. In 1973, the young science of ethology received a significant vote of approval when three of its foundersLorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and Karl von Frischreceived the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Lorenz aimed to do for behavior what Charles Darwin’s evolutionary insights did for bones. Writing in Scientific American in 1958, Lorenz begins with a familiar discussion of the evolution of forelimbs: A whale’s flipper, a bat’s wing and a man’s arm are as different from one another in outward appearance as they are in the functions they serve. But the bones of these structures reveal an essential similarity of design. The zoologist concludes that whale, bat and man evolved from a common ancestor .

Lorenz then makes his critical transition from bones to behavior: s it not possible that beneath all the variations of individual behavior there lies an inner structure of inherited behavior which characterizes all the members of a given species, genus or larger taxonomic groupjust as the skeleton of a primordial ancestor characterizes the form and structure of all mammals today ?

Can We Neutralize Our Basic Instincts

How our instincts are formed plays a huge role in our relationships and in our lives in general. That is not to say that one is better than another, but understanding how we initially react can help us develop a more level head in the future.

Once you know that you are more susceptible to a certain reaction, you can catch yourself before you take action on this instinct. You can also nurture and develop your lesser-used instinct to help you become a more rounded and balanced person.

This is something that is easy to do, and small, simple measures can make a huge difference. It was found that by giving your lesser-used instincts, you have the ability to change your mindset and even alleviate some anxieties and low mood.

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How Hardwired Is Human Behavior

New fields of science dont emerge in a flash, and evolutionary psychologysometimes called modern Darwinismis no exception. But over the past several years, evolutionary psychology as a discipline has gathered both momentum and respect. A convergence of research and discoveries in genetics, neuropsychology, and paleobiology, among other sciences, evolutionary psychology holds that although human beings today inhabit a thoroughly modern world of space exploration and virtual realities, they do so with the ingrained mentality of Stone Age hunter-gatherers. Homo sapiens emerged on the Savannah Plain some 200,000 years ago, yet according to evolutionary psychology, people today still seek those traits that made survival possible then: an instinct to fight furiously when threatened, for instance, and a drive to trade information and share secrets. Human beings are, in other words, hardwired. You can take the person out of the Stone Age, evolutionary psychologists contend, but you cant take the Stone Age out of the person.

You can take the person out of the Stone Age, not the Stone Age out of the person.

Evolutionary Psychology :;A Convergence of Research and Controversy

The central proposition of evolutionary psychologythat human beings retain the mentality of their Stone Age forebearsgathers its strength from six convergent sources of scientific research.

Should You Trust Your First Instinct

Ask Mark 5.6 – Agency(Instinct)/Personality and Determinism/Autonomy

Gut instinct, or intuition, is your immediate understanding of something; theres no need to think it over or get another opinionyou just know. Because of this, trusting your intuition is the ultimate act of trusting yourself. Listening to your intuition helps you avoid unhealthy relationships and situations.

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William James On Instincts

William James suggested that every instinct is an impulse or a reflex action. And, thus, human beings cannot help behaving in a specific way when acting on their instincts.

As per science, we obey our instincts because they are useful to us in our survival. William James, however, claimed that we follow our instincts not because of their utility.

But because at the time of following them they are the only appropriate and natural things to do.

For him, every instinct is an impulse. That is, actions that are the result of definite sensory stimuli coming in contact with the human body or at a distance in his environment.

Thus, specific reactions are pre-programmed in the human nervous system. And these reactions are called forth by certain sensations or perceptions in humans.

The Transitory Nature of Instincts

William James claimed that humans have a far greater variety of instincts than lower animals. And that these instincts are as blind as the instincts in lower animals.

Typically, the difference between humans and lower animals is that humans have higher-order reasoning skills. And that humans work by reason the majority of the time.

However, reasoning applies both for inferring as well as obeying impulses.

But given the human memory and his abilities to reflect and infer, instinctive actions come in association with the foresight of their outcome.

Thus, as per James, instincts appear to be transitory. That is, these appear only once in a lifetime.

Iii Nature Of Evolutionary Levels

It is important to understand that there exist characteristic structural differences between the levels of evolutionary development of a given species.

For instance, a protozoan is not a simpler form of a human. It is a different kind of organism and its behavior depends on its structure in different ways.

However, we cannot say that its behavior patterns are similar to that of humans as they seem to serve similar functions and have superficially similar characteristics.

As per research, evolutionary selection may result in similar behaviors at different levels of evolutionary development. However, such similar behavior patterns are derived from different structures.

Thus, the evolutionary concept of instinct theory does not consider the fact that the behavior patterns at different evolutionary levels depend on the structure and life of the organism.

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