Konrad Lorenz was one of the leading scientists and researchersmost important of the twentieth century. He studied, as no one before him, the behavior of animals. He is known as the "father of ethology". In other words, discipline that studies animal behavior. His research greatly enriched what we knew about the laws of adaptation and survival.
This remarkable scientist was born in Vienna in 1903.He shows, from an early age, a special love for animals. He owned many pets and spent a good deal of his time caring for them. Interestingly, he felt a great attraction to wild geese. This is how his first discoveries were born. Konrad Lorenz has always wanted to study zoology. His father nevertheless wanted him to be a doctor and Konrad did not want to contradict him.
Konrad Lorenz completed his medical studies at Columbia University, New York. However, he continued his zoological research as soon as he graduated. He completed his studies with a doctorate in this discipline at the University of Vienna.
” The link with a dog is the most enduring of this land.”-Konrad Lorenz-
Konrad Lorenz and ethology
Lorenz was a great observer. He spent much of his time observing wild geese and other birds.He meets Niko Tinbergen, biologist and ornithologist, in 1936. Both sharethe same fascination for animals. So they started to work together. Together they laid the foundation for what later became ethology, the science of animal behavior.
Ethology is a purely biological science. However, it is closely related to psychology. Indeed, she also studies the basics of behavior. What is found in animals contrasts with human behavior and inversely.
Konrad Lorenz hasdesigned, with the help of his teacher, Oskar Heinroth, the concept of "fixed patterns of behavior". This is one of the most relevant aspects of Konrad Lorenz's studies. As the name suggests, this is a series of invariable patterns of behavior. These behaviors were observed in most animal species.
He discovered that there were instinctive answers. In other words, answers marked by genetic programming. These behaviors, many of which include real rituals, are implemented in the face of certain stimuli. This is the case, for example, of mating rituals of birds.
The imprint, an interesting concept
Footprint is one of the most important concepts developed by Konrad Lorenz. This is a kind of brand that attaches to certain animals from birth. Konrad Lorenz discovered this by observing the offspring of newly born geese and duck.
He detected that the chicks hatch and follow the first moving object they see. They do not pay attention to the fact that this object is their mother or not. They act automatically, pursuing everything that moves in front of them. Konrad Lorenz called this behavior the imprint.
Konrad Lorenz also noted that such a footprint was not limited to the first minutes of life. Indeed, it is maintained over time. So much so that printed animals can try to mate with humans when they reach maturity. They even reject members of their own species, giving priority to humans. This does not happen, however, in all animal species. In various however.
A great legacy
Konrad Lorenz's research had a big impact on psychology. One of the most important was to show that instinct plays a very important role in all animals, including humans. This contradicted therefore some behavioral theses, which postulated that all human behaviors learned.
Otherwise,the concept of "footprint" has allowed us to define new perspectives on the impact of circumstances on behavior. He clearly demonstrated that, under certain conditions, even instinct is able to lead us to unsuspected paths thanks to its mechanisms.
Konrad Lorenz's research has provided valuable insights into the laws of adaptation and survival in the animal kingdom, which can be extrapolated to humans. So he won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1973 and became responsible for the creation of a new discipline: ethology. His stamp is alive in current knowledge. His name already occupies an undeniable place among the greats of history.