Ethological explanations of aggression

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  • Ethological Explanations of Aggression
    • Hydraulic model
      • Each FAP has a reservoir of action-specific energy (ASE) 
      • Once the FAP has been performed the reservoir is empty and must build up before the behaviour can repeat
      • Sign stimuli cause the IRM to release this energy by performing the FAP
    • potential for aggression may be innate + aggressive behaviour is triggered by  stimuli
    • Aggression is adaptive and promotes survival
    • FAP's and IRM's
      • All members of a species have innate behaviours which occur in certain conditions (Fixed Action Patterns)
        • Characteristic of FAPs
          • 1.The behaviour occurs in the same way
          • 4.Once triggered, the behaviour can't be stop
          • 5.Each FAP has a specific trigger
          • 2.The behaviour is present in all conspecifics
          • 3.The behaviour is innate
      • FAPs are produced by neural mechanisms (Innate Releasing Mechanism)
        • Which are triggered by a sign stimulus
    • Tinbergen (1951) showed that male sticklebacks produce an aggressive FAP when another male arrives
      • The sign stimulus is the red stomach. (covered=no attack)
    • Aggressive behaviour may be ritualised displays which assess strength + may prevent injury
    • Lorenz (52) claimed that species  evolve fearsome weapons have inhibitions not to use these against their species.
      • A fighting wolf will expose its neck on submission and the fight stops so this must be instinctive
      • Doves are non-hunters and so haven’t developed  inhibitions but fly away
    • Evaluation
      • Lehrman (53) believed that Lorenz under-estimated environmental factors.
      • There are also variations between aggression in the same species suggesting it’s fixed
      • Eibl-Eibesfeldt (72) suggests FAPs include smiling and  ‘eyebrow flash’ but that aggressive FAPs are not adaptive now
      • Human behaviour is more varied + less predictable than non-human species so we don’t respond the same 
      • If inhibitions prevent the killing of own species then it killing should happen due to accident but male lions kill systematically
      • The Yanomamo of South America use chest pounding and club fighting to settle fights
      • Hoebel (67) found that Inuit eskimos use song duels to settle disputes


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