Tinbergen is asked how he defines the terms "innate releasing mechanisms" and "releasing mechanisms" within his study of zoology. Tinbergen explains that they dropped the term innate when they discovered some mechanisms were learned even when thought to be "innate;" he explains what he was dealing with in his book "The Study of Instinct."
Tinbergen explains that many of the nonverbal communications within humans have not been studied as extensively as in animals because humans are expected to intuitively understand nonverbal communication. Tinbergen is asked about another book of his called "Curious Naturalists" which is a semi-autobiographical depiction of work done by him and his research team, and his collection titled "The Animal in its World."
Tinbergen responds to whether or not he is now focused on the autistic child because this is an area in which the methodology of ethology can be applied at the human level. Tinbergen describes how the research team can observe the children individually and nonexperimentally.
Tinbergen explains that humankind is in a perilous situation that should be assessed by ethologists to help humanity improve and overcome the pitfalls of modern culture. Tinbergen describes how ethologists have come to believe large, urban environments are a breeding ground for aggressive behavior and how ethologists might one day be able to assist city planners.
Tinbergen explains the critique which was the most articulate was the American psychologist Danny Lerhman's criticism of their rigorous distinction between innate and learned behavior. He goes on to say they eventually concluded Lerhman was correct and altered their existing work.
Credits: Nikolaas Tinbergen's Discussion with Richard Evans
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In this video, Nikolaas Tinbergen considers innate releasing mechanisms, nonverbal communications, the differences and similarities between animals and humans, and autistic children. He also discusses ethology and social problems and presents his reactions to his critics.
Length: 29 minutes
Copyright date: ©1975
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