Communicating Concepts

Hosted by
San Diego Figure Skating Communications

 Cognitive & Behaviorist Studies -
Instinctive Behaviors

What are Instinctive Behaviors?
      What are Instinctive Behaviors and do humans ever act out of instinct rather than their own will?  Instincts are defined as non-learned, inherited (genetic) patterns of behavior generally ensuring the survival of a species. Common examples include spinning a web by a spider, nest building and other maternal activities, migration patterns of animals, social behavior in pack animals. insects, animal courtship behaviors including monogamous mating, etc. Some behavioral scientists suggest that animals act out of instinct and humans out of will. However, the transfer of instincts from one generation to another is not well understood although it is assumed that somehow genes are involved.

      Instinctive behavior is observed more frequently in primitive life forms while more complex manuals like humans depend mostly on learned (i.e. cerebral) behavior than instincts. However, human babies at birth instinctively exhibit:

  • A sucking response for obtaining food,
  • A grasping response with hands exploring surroundings,
  • Crying to express pain, distress, and hunger,
  • Noises and facial expressions conveying pleasure/happiness.

      Ethnologists, like Konrad Lorenz who studies animal behavior, believe that every species have routine movements. that appear to be automatic. in some way relates to their structural systems.  Dr. Lorenz's name for these patterns is "Fixed Action Patterns" where particular characteristics are associated with the body's inherent physical structure and the adaptive functions of appendages.

      Instinctive behavior goes beyond simple responses to an external stimulus. There is evidence that instinctive activity involves sequences of behavior that run a predictable course. The premise is that instinctive behavior is hereditarily based, but is also shaped by the forces of natural selection. Selection assumes that most of the outcomes of instinctive activity contribute to the preservation of an individual or to the continuity of the species; however, selection also involves the tendency to adapt to positive or negative changes in the environment that has implications for the individual's survival and ability to continue a line of prodigies. 

     Instinct is frequently defined behavior that can range from or simple response to the subjects environment to high level of actions involving complex reflexes. Studies of White Sharks has proven that certain instinctive behaviors may be modified through learning, but most tend toward a narrow, predictable response.

Recommended Reading:
  • Innate Behavior Once the body is prepared for certain types of instinctive behavior, an external stimulus may be needed to act as a stimulus.
  • Re: Do humans have instincts or just reflexs?   Sept. 13, 2001  Behavioral scientists, however, mean something very different by instinct. Because of this confusion, many modern textbooks are using a different term, "fixed action pattern" to refer to behaviors that used to be called instincts. Reflexes and fixed action patterns do indeed refer to different types of behaviors.
  • The Importance of Yoga for Sports Persons   Feb. 5, 2011 Yoga is a holistic system - teaching skills which many sports persons seek, such as control over the mind, control over the body, good breathing, etc.
  • Autonomic Nervous System - NDRF   The autonomic nervous system conveys sensory impulses from the blood vessels , the heart and all of the organs in the chest, abdomen and pelvis, etc.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  All kids have worries and doubts. But some have obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD) in which their worries compel them to behave in certain ways.
  • Instinctive Behavior  Oct. 21, 2002  What are instinctive behaviors and do humans ever act out of instinct rather than their own will?
  • Basic Instinct Not So Basic After All   May 26, 2006 The idea that only great apes and humans have a forward planning does fit the facts. Is there a distinction between forward planning and instinctive behavior?
  • PDF Can Human Instincts Be Controlled? Like all animals, humans have instincts, genetically hard-wired behaviors that enhance our ability to cope with vital environmental contingencies.
  • Innate Behavior  Interaction of Internal and External Stimuli; Releasers of Instinctive Behavior ... Nonetheless, it turns out that in some animals, at least, foraging behavior can be
The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Converting Bad Habits

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

Athlete Concerns     Collection of Related Ideas    Skating Articles    Related Topics      

Ice Skating Rink Index    Topic Index    Site Index   Home Page