On Aggression

On Aggression

On Aggression

On Aggression

Excerpt

by Sir Julian Huxley, f.r.s.

Konrad Lorenz is the father of modern ethology, that rapidly growing branch of science which is destined to provide a strong foundation for the science of human behaviour and psychology.

He has initiated a new interpretation of vertebrate behaviour. This is composed of 'behaviour-units', just as anatomy is composed of structural units. These have a genetic basis, and in the course of evolutionary time have been modified by Darwinian natural selection to act as specific signals for communicating emotional states. In the frequent cases where aggression and fear are involved they are modified so as to reduce the risk of intraspecific damage, and to permit close proximity between potential mates without arousing the aggression and fear which a close approach tends to elicit. Thus in the course of evolution all these behaviour-patterns tend to get ritualized or formalized, with exaggeration of prominent features, like grebes' ruffs and ear-tufts, and with enhanced variety and signalling efficiency.

In addition, when conflicting drives come into conflict, the pent-up nervous energy may spill over into quite irrelevant

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