A very interesting topic: Instinct – Kocaeli Journal

Come and don’t worry!. Scientists have objected to the new airport being built in Istanbul, stating that this area is on the migration route of birds. While passenger planes use very complex technological tools to determine their routes and use launch lines, how do birds determine immutable arrival and return routes from one continent to another?

Adult males of some animal species (e.g. lions) sometimes kill the offspring of their own species. It is claimed that this was done in order to dominate his genetic line. But there are also mothers who, for example, in captive conditions can kill and even eat their offspring. Such are hamsters, for example, commonly referred to as small pets. It is suggested that they do this to “save” their offspring from an uncertain fate. (a)

In some animal species (eg wolves), the oldest male in the group marks a certain area of ​​their habitat with his own scent – certain secretions. Thus, it signals to other related animals that this space belongs to them and should not be invaded or violated. If one of them violates, the fight begins, the fight becomes necessary. (a)

Animals attack in various ways to defend themselves or their young.

The birds brood,

Hatched sea turtles head straight for the water (1)

In fights between animals of the same species – wolves for example – if the weaker signal surrenders (showing its throat), the other is almost blocked and gives up the kill function, (1)

How about the extraordinary ability of beavers to tirelessly build perfect embankments as if they were engineers?


These examples can be multiplied. It is seen that animals can perform extraordinary functions easily and spontaneously with their inherited behaviors.

Scientific publications describe these hereditary behaviors as instincts.

Instinct is very interesting to me, but such a foreign subject for me to write about. Who among my friends knows this subject best? My friend Muhittin Minister, who studied philosophy. In order to avoid errors, I examined with him the translations that I made of scientific articles.

Let’s start with the question of what instinct is;

It is very difficult to answer this question in a way that is accepted by all. Because it is very complex. The effect of the elements that make up its content on each other changes according to time and place. As a result, instinct is used in everyday language very differently from scientific language, to express many different situations, ranging from acting without thinking to certain food tastes or natural dispositions. (a)

Etymologically, the term instinct (from the Latin “instinctus”) is used to designate an action or behavior performed automatically by an animal, without its knowledge, due to an internal force in the organism. (2nd)

According to another definition, an organism, It is an innate inclination to perform or adopt a certain behavior. That is to say, the reactions of an animal independently of previous experiences are instinctual.

Instincts are immutable behaviors that are inherited. It is quite characteristic of animal species. It varies little from one individual of the same species to another and is intended to ensure the survival of a single individual or a single species. (a)

Instinct exists in all animal species.. Each animal is born with a set of behaviors that depend on its hereditary makeup and are automatically driven to perform. In other words, the individual performs schematic/pattern actions such as attacking or fleeing from particular situations without having to pick or choose between them. Behaviors determined by instincts are therefore diametrically opposed to behaviors that result from learning. (a) In other words, instinct is not acquired by learning.

One of the first systematic theories on instincts was proposed by William McDougall (1871 – 1938), an early 20th century psychologist, author of the book “Introduction to Social Psychology”, who was instrumental in the establishment of experimental and physiological psychology. He places instinct on a strictly psychological basis, without reducing it to a purely biological or physiological process. (2nd)

In the psychological tradition, however, the concept of instinct has a very general use and successive opinions on this subject diverge. For example, according to Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt, a German psychologist who was one of the founders of modern psychology and who was also a physiologist, philosopher and physician, lived between 1832-1920, aside from basic food and reproductive instincts, he is a typical characteristic of an animal species that is transmitted from generation to generation. There will always be behaviors that will eventually become fixed. (2nd)

American philosopher and psychologist William James (USA.1842-1910), precursor of the functionalist movement in psychology, pioneer of pragmatism, and Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (Russia. 1849-1936), a scientist who profoundly influenced the fields of psychophysiology and experimental psychology with its work in physiology and psychology, thinkers have compared instinct to reflexes. Because reflexes are also innate processes that the animal is equipped to respond to environmental stimuli and meet its own needs. The difference with instincts is only quantitative. That is, instinctive actions have great complexity and structurally significant similarity to reflex actions. (2nd)

The Austrian-born neurologist Freud (1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalysis, one of the most important sub-branches of psychology, defines instinct as “a concept situated on the border between the spiritual and the corporeal, the psychic representative of the stimuli coming from the organism and reaching the mind”. Instinct has a specific goal that unfolds in a predetermined sequence of actions towards a specific goal and object.

From a psychological point of view, the behavior of animals is essentially based on instincts that ensure their survival and that of their species by meeting basic needs such as hunger, thirst, sleep and sex. But human behavior is not instinctive, as it is shaped by social and cultural factors and is guided by consciousness, including actions aimed at meeting basic needs.

Conclusion: It is not possible to know animals well without knowing what instinct is.


1) Simona Argentieri. 2005. Istinto. Treccani Enciclopedia dei ragazzi

2) Anonymous..2015. Istinto.PSIC online. Psychology and psychology in rete. Since 1999 on WEB the first psychology site in Italy.

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