Social Psychology: An Analysis of Social Behavior

Chapter 4: The Unlearned Behavior of the Individual

Kimball Young

Table of Contents | Next | Previous

The literature of social psychology, like that of general psychology, has been replete with discussions of the place of the instincts and emotions in human behavior. While our purpose is not to write the history of theories of instincts and emotions, the controversies over the nature of unlearned behavior warrant a short review of at least two rather divergent schools of thought. Such a review will occupy the first section of this chapter. The balance of the chapter will be given over to an expansion of the standpoint indicated at the close of the last chapter, and offer an introduction to the material to follow in subsequent chapters.

A. The Controversy over Instinctive-Emotional Tendencies in Behavior.

It was once rather common practice to distinguish somewhat sharply between the instincts and the emotions. McDougall in his Social Psychology (1908) paired off the major instincts with the major emotions. Watson in his Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist (1919) presented a long list of instincts and instinctive tendencies which were differentiated from the emotions. Today Watson avoids the very word instinct and has replaced it with the term reflex; but more than that, he has, like many other writers, done away with the sharp distinction between instinct and emotion. The present conception seems to be that the instinctive tendencies and fundamental emotions shall be considered together as the basic innate and original behavior patterns. If there is any distinction it lies in the locus in the organism where the reactions take place. The instinctive tendencies are expressed through the peripheral muscles. The emotions involve the internal or smooth muscles and the glands. The two are certainly correlated, but hardly in the simple fashion imagined by Professor McDougall. In the present chapter we shall consider the inherent emotions and the instinctive tendencies as the reactions of the organism as a 'whole at the biological reflex level.


The nature and scope of these fundamental biological reactions have given rise in recent years to a great deal of controversial literature concerning the entire concept of innate tendencies. Especially violent has been the discussion whether or not the human being has any instincts, and if so, how they may be described in terms of unlearned behavior. We may say at the outset that most American writers in psychology have long since given up the practice that still persists in continental Europe and among the social scientists and literary people of all countries, to use the term instinct or instinctive tendency in the sense of any more or less deep-rooted reaction pattern or habit system. Bernard at one time collected over five thousand examples of loose and illogical use of the term instinct. One can find these examples in older writings in philosophy and social science and in all ,belles lettres. One reads: "The heroine instinctively pulled the trigger of the gun"; or "Her subtle feminine instinct told her that her brother was not what she had imagined him to be"; or "Men reason, women possess instincts." One writer mentions the "instinct of any profession." Even James somewhere remarks: "I imagine that more than half of you share our instinctive belief in free will." Henry Adams in his autobiography makes the statement that, "the religious instinct had vanished and could not be revived, although one made in later life many efforts to recover it." We find even so careful a writer as Leonard Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, stating that "the prejudice (against sterilization of the feebleminded) is likely to be instinctive."

The whole drift in this country has been away from such loose usage. More careful writers define instinct in terms of inherent structures which furnish the basis for unlearned bodily functions. To use such a term as instinct to cover any form of more or less habituated or automatic behavior,— to use it as a kind of mystical intuitive principle, or to use it in a broad sense to explain prejudice or belief, is to rob it of any accurate meaning. From the welter of more serious technical articles and books on the subject of the human instincts have emerged what seem to the writer to be two views. One of these considers the entire matter of instincts from the angle of their service and purpose to the organism; the other views the whole question from the angle of demonstrable mechanisms found in the organism at birth.

1. The Drive Theory of Instincts. The upholders of the first view look upon the instincts as the drives or urges which are basic to behavior. Upon

(60) these, higher or habitual nature is added by one's adjustment to the environment, physical and social. Older writers often spoke of the instinct for self-preservation and for race-preservation. Freud and Jung adopt much the same view. They employ the term instinct in the broad sense of general drive or purpose for survival. They pay little attention to the niceties of technical language, as do the animal psychologists of America who wish to circumscribe carefully their description of original behavior. The matter really rests, of course, upon certain fundamental philosophical and methodological bases of interpretation. McDougall may be considered a spokesman, in a way, for those who hold to this first view. He writes:

I have insisted that all mental activity is purposive, that it is a striving toward a goal, however vaguely the goal may be thought of . . . .

The view that all animal and human behavior is purposive in however vague and lowly a degree, and that purposive action is fundamentally different from mechanical process, may be conveniently called the hormic theory. The word "hormic" is from the Greek "horme" . . . , which means a vital impulse or urge to action. Schopenhauer's "will-to-live," Professor Bergson's "élan vital," and Doctor C. G. Jung's "libido," are alternative expressions for the purposive or hormic energy that is manifested in human and animal behavior. . . .[1]

In another place he writes:

We may say, then, that directly or indirectly the instincts are the prime movers of all human activity; by the conative or impulsive force of some instinct or of some habit derived from an instinct, every train of thought, however cold and passionless it may seem, is borne along towards its end, and every bodily activity is initiated and sustained. The instinctive impulses determine the ends of all activities and supply the driving power by which all mental activities are sustained; and all the complex intellectual apparatus of the most highly developed mind is but a means towards these ends, is but the instrument by which these impulses seek their satisfactions, while pleasure and pain do but serve to guide them in their choice of the means.

Take away these instinctive dispositions with their powerful impulses, and the organism would become incapable of, activity of any kind; it would lie inert and motionless like a wonderful clockwork whose mainspring had been removed or a steam-engine whose fires had been drawn. These impulses are the mental forces that maintain and shape all the life of individuals and societies,

(61) and in them we are confronted with the central mystery of life and mind and will.[2]

McDougall presents a philosophic rather than an experimental setting for his thesis. Clearly there is a distinct tone of vitalism in his view.

Throughout the entire literature of the hormic or drive school of instinctivists, the main problem lies in the idea that there are certain fundamental urges and purposes in the organism. The study of the particular muscles, glands, and segments of the organism which carry out these urges is not their concern, and whether the urges are learned or innate seems to them of little consequence. The whole thing is nicely illustrated in the criticism which this school makes of Kuo's discussion of the concept of instinct. Kuo quotes Whitman's experiments. Whitman found that pigeons mated with the particular species with which they were reared. Moreover if males were reared with males only, they would attempt copulation with males; and if raised in isolation, they would attempt copulation with the hand of the experimenter or with some material object, such as a stick placed through the wire netting. From this evidence .Kuo argues that there is no sex instinct or urge for the male to copulate with the female. He goes so far as to remark "that all our sexual appetites are the result of social stimulation. The organism possesses no ready-made reaction to the other sex."

Now those who accept the hormic view of instincts may and do inquire at once how it comes about that the pigeon or man, for that matter, attempts copulation at all. That is, while it may be admitted that social-environmental stimuli to sexual behavior may vary considerably, there still remains in the pigeon, as in all other higher animal forms, some bodily condition, whatever it is, which causes the animal to offer itself for copulation if a female, or to seek copulation if a male, or even to attempt copulation with inanimate objects if no mate is present. McDougall calls this tendency to perform the sexual function the drive or horme. Likewise hunger, thirst, and other bodily conditions which seem antecedent to certain rather distinctive types of behavior would be looked upon its drives or urges. McDougall has given us a long list of instincts which act as fundamental urges. These include, among others, flight, repulsion, curiosity, pugnacity, self-assertion, and self-abasement. McDougall, it must

(62) be recalled, does not hold that these tendencies necessarily operate through a particularly innate system of motor patterns, but contends that an instinct may "make use at need of a large array of motor mechanisms, different instincts expressing themselves on different occasions through the same motor mechanism; although it may be true that any one instinct most readily finds expression through some such mechanism, or through some one coördinated system of such mechanisms."[3] Many adherents of this school besides McDougall hold that the instinct may express itself through either innate or acquired mechanisms.

Other writers who hold this drive or hormic theory are the psychoanalysts, particularly the followers of Freud and Jung. For Freud the term libido describes the energy which gets into operation through the sexual appetites. For Jung libido means the urge or "psychic" energy which is inherent in the organism and lies at the foundation of all behavior. Whether we can accept the concept of mental or psychic energy apparently depends on our basic philosophic premises rather than on the scientific objectivity. The question is: Does the concept help us to deal with human behavior in a more consistent and predictable form? This is precisely what the adherents of Freud and Jung claim for the idea. In any case the psychoanalysts use instinctive tendencies in much the same way as McDougall uses them.

The biological mechanisms for them do not assume a significant place; MacCurdy, however, has attempted to reformulate the. Freudian concepts into something more in line with McDougall. He posits four fundamental drives in the organism: hunger, sex, gregariousness, and ego-expansion: His viewpoint represents no fundamental addition to the hormic school, aside from the evident recognition by an eminent psychoanalyst that the sex urge alone is insufficient either as a descriptive or as an explanatory concept.

2. The MechanisticSchool of Bio-psychology.— The followers of this school of thought rest their case for instincts largely on experimental evidence from comparative psychology. At best the term instinct, if used at all, is considered a series of concatenated innate reflexes which are observed in the organism under certain specific stimuli. They do not find

(63) evidence for any general drives whatsoever. Lashley's statement regarding sex drive gives their essential viewpoint on the whole question:

There is no sex instinct or sex drive in the meaning with which the words are ordinarily used. Sexual behavior consists of a number of acts, each a definite response to a definite pattern of stimulation. These reflexes are independently conditioned by specific hormones, by nutritional factors, and by habitual modifications. There is no evidence here for the existence of free energy. There is no unity among the sexual reactions such as is essential to prove their common motivation. There is no source of energy which could fulfill the requirements of the libido.[4]

In like manner hunger and other innate responses, such as withdrawing from a hot stimulus, a cold one or sharp one— all must be related to certain definite acts in a series.

It must be recognized, however, as Stone has shown so well for the sex trends, that the origin of certain particular series of acts depends upon the internal changes in energy manifestations within the organism. Sex behavior is incited by the accumulation of autocoids or hormones in the sex glands which produce restlessness and movement normally ending in sexual acts. That is to say, the stimulation is interoceptive. Likewise, hunger starts off from metabolic changes which give rise, in turn, to peristaltic movements in the stomach. These we sense as hunger pangs. They lead to restlessness, movement, heightened sensibilities to food stimuli, and so on through a cycle till hunger is appeased. Thirst also is dependent upon internal stimulation brought about by metabolic changes in the organism. In other native activities, such as fear and rage, the stimuli clearly lie outside the organism. So, too, withdrawal and rejection reactions depend on exteroceptive stimulation. Moreover, sex responses, while dependent for their expression upon interoceptive stimulation from glandular changes, are correlated with external stimulation of the erogenous zones.

The bio-psychological school holds, in short, that only objective description and experimentation of unlearned behavior will give one the correct clue to the nature of the fundamental reactions. These reactions rest upon

( 64) chemical or tensional pressures in the organism which set off responses, or upon exteroceptive stimulation which brings internal changes as well as overt response. For this school of workers there is no need to posit a priori any élan vital, or libido. The critics who follow this school, among them Bernard, Kuo, Faris, and Lashley, have hurled vigorous and effective arguments against the whole conception of instinct as used by the Purposive or Hormic School. They charge the latter with mysticism, misstatement, and faulty interpretation of facts.

Yet, in spite of all that has been written against the Purposive School, one must recognize the soundness of their insistence upon the active, dynamic character of the organism in the presence of the environment. There has been some tendency on the part of some adherents of the general behavioristic position to look upon the organism as somehow the passive victim of a stimulating and dynamic environment. Such a view scarcely follows either from careful field observation of animal life, including man, or from laboratory experimentation. The recognition that behavior, in part at least, originates with changes within the organism need not lead us to the views of McDougall or the psychoanalysts. One may take into account the dynamic character of the organism without laying oneself open to the charges of vitalism or mysticism. The theory of Kempf, Frank, and others that the basis of behavior lies in the internal bodily tensions gives as objective a picture as any mere stimulus-response doctrine which views the organism as the passive object of external environment. Even the concept of mental energy might find adherence without necessarily ending in a metaphysics of the soul. Aside from this, however, the dynamic interaction of organism and environment, indicated by Child's work cited in the previous chapter, must be reckoned with in treating the instinctive or unlearned levels of behavior, just as it must be recognized in discussing the interplay of organism and environment at the levels of habit formation and associative thinking.

3. Instincts in Social Theory.— Something should be said about the use of the concept instinct in the social sciences. Many writers, past and present, have assumed a set of social instincts to explain human society. Imitation, gregariousness or the herd instinct, and natural sociability are perhaps the most commonly cited examples. The doctrine of instinctive sociability comes down to us from Aristotle through the Christian church fathers to the present, to find its most recent exponents in Trotter and

(65) Woodworth. The theory is that society is based originally and fundamentally upon some innate, original tendencies of men to gather in groups and to respond in some unique, social manner to the presence of others of their own species. The concept of instinctive imitation has also had much place in the sociological and psychological theories of Bagehot, Tarde, Ross, and Baldwin, to mention some of the best-known writers. Similarity in men's behavior is explained by recourse to a biological urge to duplicate the acts of others around us. Again, an instinct of sympathy has been used to explain human associations from Polybius to Spinoza, Hume, Adam Smith, and Kropotkin.

We need not examine these theories in detail. It is clear that the use of the term instinct in social theory has little in common with the more objective analysis of unlearned behavior made by modern biology and psychology. Imitation and sympathy, as we shall see, are forms of conditioned response. Human gregariousness, however, seems acquired, not innate, and is to be examined in reference to the fact of personal contiguity and conditioning. Likeness or difference of behavior must be scrutinized in terms of the fundamental organization of reflexes, and the modification and elaboration of these in terms of social-cultural conditioning. In conclusion, then, the evidence for social instincts as such, disappears in the careful analysis of the interaction of the biological organisms in their physical and social-cultural environment.

B. Some Fundamental Features of Unlearned Behavior.

Unlearned behavior consists of emotional or covert behavior and of reflex activity of an overt sort. If we refer to the latter as instinctive, we have only the difference of locus between this and the emotional kind. As we noted above, emotional reactions concern internal, covert changes in the organism, involving especially the glands and the smooth muscles. The basic reflex patterns, or instincts, if we wish to retain the word, involve overt responses and bring into play the skeletal framework and the striped muscles. Originally both of these types of behavior .sic closely bound together. Rather than attempt to segregate the unlearned behavior into two nice bundles, let us turn to examine the activities as we find ;them in the new-born child and in early infancy before learning or changes in stimulus-response mechanisms take place.

If we begin with an examination of the behavior of infants, we have a

(66) good idea of what the major unlearned tendencies are. The new-born individual possesses a structural-functional organization making possible a host of reactions of simple sort. More important, of course, is the fact of plasticity or modifiability in stimulus-response systems. Through the mediation of the central neurons, the integration of these fundamental reflex units of behavior into attitudes and habits of far-reaching significance takes place.

1. Simpler Reflexes. As we have seen, the basic organic unit of reaction is the reflex arc. Many of the reflexes of purely vegetative sort involved in the automatic actions of respiration, circulation, digestion, and metabolism are present at birth. Very quickly a considerable number of protective reflexes appear: eye wink, knee jerk, coughing, withdrawal of hand or foot from painful, cold, or warm stimuli, and others. Also the grasping and Babinski reflexes appear at birth, the latter to disappear very shortly. Warren in his Human Psychology (1919) lists sixty-seven reflexes, many of them denoting really groups of simpler reflexes. But these basic physiological and protective reflexes deal only with the mere survival of the organism at the lowest level of adjustment to its environment. As the individual matures, other reflex systems come into operation. For example, family organization, based originally on biological care of the young, makes possible protection of another sort. Presently all sorts of additions are made to the reaction patterns of the individual through social-cultural stimuli.

A number of systematic observations have been made of babies to discover the course of development of some of the fundamental reflex patterns. Mary Cover Jones reports a study of the early responses of 356 white and colored babies of both sexes. She studied smiling, blinking, and eye-coördination, opposition of the thumb to the fingers, and some others.

Blinking at birth occurs if the face is touched near the eyes, but in the experiment reported by Jones a moving visual stimulus was used. Smiling was of the spontaneous sort, not that which occurs later when others smile at the infant. Horizontal eye-coordination was tested by moving a small light horizontally in front of the eyes, and the vertical eye-coordination by moving the light vertically. Opposition to the thumb, like smiling, was noted when it appeared spontaneously for the first time.

The following table presents the time of the first of five of these reflexes.

Table I. Showing Time of First Appearance and Variability in Percentiles Among 356 Infants of Smiling, Eye-coördination, Blinking, and Thumb Opposition [5]

Days when the activity first appeared
Activity 25th
Smiling 45 58 68
Eye-coördination (Horizontal) 45 58 72
Eye-coördination (Vertical) 53 65 78
Blinking 60 76 92
Thumb-opposition 129 140 181

2. Complex Reflex Patterns. Aside from these simple reflexes, certain series of reflexes of coordinated sort appear very early. The nursing pattern is one of the earliest. During the first day, if the child is placed at the mother's breast and the nipple is put in contact with the infant's lips, the sucking reflex will be set up. As the milk flows into the mouth, the swallowing reflex follows and the feeding pattern becomes established The whole hunger-feeding pattern consists of internal metabolic changes producing hunger pangs, crying, restlessness, taking the breast when presented, sucking, swallowing, and the consequent digestive activities. Here both individual variability and early personal-social conditioning to such fundamental reactions are illustrated. Aside from the case of babies born prematurely, where at the outset there seems to be a definite lack of muscular strength sufficient to perform the sucking reaction, there are individual differences in the ease with which infants take to the nursing act. Nurses, physicians, and mothers all report that sometimes babies do not take at once to nursing. The nipple will not be grasped by the lips. The head may be turned aside from it. Sometimes the placing of a little milk in the mouth will set off the swallowing reaction first and then later the sucking reflex will take place more readily. But sooner or later the pattern of nursing is established.

Other unlearned reactions, aside from more distinctly vegetative ones,

(68) are bodily elimination, rejection of nauseous substances, and the fatigue-demands leading to sleep. There are early apparent sex reactions arising from the manipulation of the sex organs. These external sex responses indicate that, although the sex functioning proper arises fundamentally from the internal stimulation from the sex glands at sex maturity, the infant is prepared structurally for external manipulation of the sex organs. There also early appears reaction to tickling, slight pressure on the nipples, cheeks or lips, stroking of the back, thighs, and neck. These seem to produce a pleasurable feeling-tone on the part of the infant. Watson calls them erogenous zone reactions, but Allport, Tolman, and others refer to them as "sensitive zone reactions." Only with later learning do many of these areas become associated with sexual stimulation proper. The affectionate stimulation of mother, father, or other persons in kissing, patting, and fondling the infant furnishes an early shift of these reactions distinctly toward the sexual field.

There are also a host of reflex activities of the infant called "random movements." These are largely free and untrammeled actions of arms, legs, and torso. Doubtless these random actions constitute the first practice in many muscular reactions which later become integrated into important motor habits. They seem correlated originally with the maturation of the neuro-muscular-glandular system.

Then, too, there are the sensory developments of the child. We have mentioned eye-coördination. Hearing, smelling, and tasting are evident in earliest infancy. Perhaps kinesthetic sensations are built up even before birth. They must be associated with "random" activity as well as other more "directed" movement. As times goes on, kinesthetic sensations assume more and more importance in providing awareness of bodily movement.

Anger and fear reactions appear very early. These responses are themselves made up of an organization of simpler reflexes. Watson's experiments on anger and fear are so well known that they need not be discussed extensively. He has shown that the original stimulus for anger or rage is constraint of untrammeled movement of legs, arms, and torso. Fear is originally set off by loud sounds, dropping through space, shaking when in light sleep. There is no unlearned fear of the dark, of snakes, toads, furry animals, insects, and a host of objects or animals, as the uninformed usually assume. We have already mentioned the arousal of what

( 69)Figure 2 showing time of appearance of basic behavior patterns,

(70) seem to be sexual or love responses by stimulation of the sexual organs.[7] Watson has discussed the variety of unorganized, native responses of the infant. Some of these appear at birth; others seem to depend upon maturation for appearance, and most of them are soon affected by experience. The diagram from Watson on the preceding page provides a convenient summary of the unlearned behavior of the infant and also furnishes an idea of the time of maturation and the inception of social influences.

There are thus many simple reflexes in the organism at birth. Others appear shortly thereafter. Some of them are evidently adaptive and protective at the outset. Others seem to depend on environmental pressures to become organized into units of adaptive sort. In contrast with the lower animals, man's unlearned reflexes, aside from rather basic physiological ones, are more diffuse, less well organized, and more dependent upon experience for their organization into working patterns. These fundamental reflex patterns may be called instincts or instinctive tendencies. Allport has listed six of them as "prepotent reflexes." He names hunger, sex, sensitive zone reactions, starting and withdrawing, rejecting, and struggling. The first three of these are positive or approaching in type, the other three are negative or avoiding. Associated with them are doubtless internal states commonly called emotions. Tolman has a tentative list of similar sort: hunger, sex, fatigue-demands, excretion demands, sensitive zone demands, fear, and pugnacity. Other writers have slightly different lists. Whatever classification we give, there seem to be somewhat more or less definite unlearned concatenations of reflexes which are present at birth or appear in early infancy. These are common to all peoples. They seem to depend only upon internal bodily changes or specific external stimuli to set off the accompanying, definite responses.

3. Reflex Patterns and "Drives."— Those reflexes which thus become organized early in life are called by Tolman "drives of the first order." They become significant in setting off various secondary or tertiary activities which are built upon experience. Upon the foundation of sex, hunger, fear, and rage, reactions of self-assertion of dominance are constructed. So, too, curiosity, gregariousness, and other so-called instincts

(71) are actually secondary developments upon the basis of unlearned tendencies which have become organized into new patterns by early conditioning or learning. The whole matter of the organization of the structure and function of the individual through learning is so vital that the next chapter will discuss in detail the mechanisms of this process. Yet in spite of the universal significance of learning in the organism, there remain certain fundamental trends which rest upon the unlearned mechanisms. Of these, without doubt, hunger, thirst, sexual activity, sensitive zone reactions, fear, rage, and withdrawal from painful stimuli are most important. They rest distinctly upon structures chiefly determined by our biological heredity. They are related to or are a part of the vegetative and protective processes largely controlled by the autonomic system. These and other early patterns furnish the foundations for later habit systems. Learning begins very early, as we saw in the case of hunger; and one learned experience leads to another. Nursing gives way to drinking milk from a spoon or cup, and later to the taking of solid food from a spoon, and finally to the adult techniques of eating. Likewise, struggle reactions and rage find expression through a number of channels— some native, some acquired. One may strike out at an opponent in more or less inherent fashion, or one may use the sometimes more effective rapier of wit or sarcasm to "cut" or "strike at" one's opponent. How these modifications take place we shall discuss in the next chapter. We wish to emphasize here that the prepotent reaction systems of infancy become the drives or stimulators of habits of a higher sort; that is to say, these basic reflexes, more or less patterned from birth on, constitute the fundamental inciters to other forms of behavior. As Woodworth well puts it:

"Drive" . . . is not essentially distinct from "mechanism." The drive is a mechanism already aroused and thus in a position .to furnish stimulation to other mechanisms. Any mechanism might be a drive. But it is the mechanisms directed toward consummatory reactions— whether of the simpler sort seen in animals or of the more complex sort exemplified by human desires and motives— that are most likely to act as drives. Some mechanisms act at once and relapse into quiet, while others can only bring their action to completion by first arousing other mechanisms. But there is no absolute distinction, and it will be well to bear in mind the possibility that any mechanism may be under certain circumstances the source of stimulation that arouses other mechanisms to activity.[8]

( 72) Through early learning, such integrations as curiosity, dominance, submission, gregariousness, and sociability may become drives to other activities leading to consummation or completion of the total-going response mechanism of the individual, that is, to the accomplishment of some end.

This view of drives seems much more satisfactory than that of the Hormic School represented by McDougall and the psychoanalysts. There are, no doubt, basic urges in the organism of the sort described in the previous chapter and expanded above, but these are not some mystic libido, élan vital, or horme, but physiological, vegetative tensions which set up reactions inside the organism leading to external responses, or else they arise from external stimulation itself, as in the case of fear, rage and, withdrawal from painful or nauseous stimuli. As we have seen, these protective mechanisms, in turn, involve profound internal changes which are a part of our emotions and feelings. All in all, the naturalistic approach to human behavior leaves us in a better position to analyze this behavior and in time to come to control it for social ends.

4. Unlearned Behavior and Theory.— The theories of unlearned behavior or original nature are varied. We have examined briefly the two most outstanding schools of thought on the matter. The Hormic School posits urges or drives which determine human action. The principle criticism of this school is twofold. First, it tends to a particularistic, unilinear, single-track explanation, as with the overemphasis of the Freudians on sex. Secondly, it is open to criticism because of its philosophical, mystical, rather than biological, statement of the nature of these urges. The Mechanistic School builds upon the concrete observation and experimentation of animals and man, with a view to discovering the precise stimuli which set off the unlearned reactions. It recognizes the place of the vegetative or physiological tensions or urges, but states these in terms of bio-chemical changes and neuro-muscular-glandular reactions to the environment, internal and external.

So far as the long controversy over instincts and emotions is concerned, we have conic to realize that the basic unlearned reaction patterns are made up of reflexes, more or less organized at birth or in curly infancy. The emotions of infancy are those features of reaction which involve internal bodily changes mediated through the autonomic and central nervous system. The overt behavior which has been called instinctive, consists of reflex activities concerned with the peripheral muscles and gross

( 73) bodily adjustments to the stimuli from the environment. Man possesses literally hundreds of reflexes which get organized through learning. But there do seem to be relatively unlearned or easily formed patterns in such behavior as involves hunger, thirst, sex, sensitive zone reactions, rage, fear, and withdrawal from painful or nauseous stimuli.

More important than the mere enumeration of unlearned reactions is the recognition of the fact that human behavior rests fundamentally upon physiological needs of the organism, and that personal-social and cultural pressures are from the outset of life constantly modifying and enlarging the scope of activities in reference to these biological demands. Associated with these organic responses are the feelings or affective states of pleasantness or unpleasantness, to be discussed in a subsequent chapter.


A. Further Reading: Source Book for Social Psychology, Chapter VII, pp. 146-73.

B. Questions and Exercises.

1. Discuss questions and exercises in assignment in Source Book, Chapter VII, p. 173.

2. Discuss the strength and weakness of the Purposive and the Mechanistic viewpoints in regard to instincts .

C. Topics for Class Reports and Longer Written Papers.

  1. See assignments for reports and longer papers in Source Book, Chapter VII, pp. 173-74.
  2. Report Woodworth, "A Justification of the Concept of Instinct," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1927, vol. XXII, pp. 3-11. Also, Wyatt, "The Recent Anti-Instinctivistic Attitude in Social Psychology," Psychological Review, 1927, vol. XXXIV, pp. 126-32.
  3. Report Eggen, "Is Instinct an Entity?," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1926, vol. XXI, pp. 38-51.
  4. Report Schoen, "Instinct and Man (A Preliminary Note on Psychological Terminology)," Psychological Review, 1927, vol. XXXIV, pp. 120-25.


  1. W. McDougall, Outline of Psychology, 1923, pp. 71-72. Courtesy of Chas. Scribner's Sons.
  2. W. McDougall, Introduction to Social Psychology, 1923, pp. 45-46. Courtesy of John Luce & Company.
  3. W. McDougall, "The Use and Abuse of Instinct in Social Psychology," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1921-22, vol. XVI, p. 311.
  4. K. S. Lashley, "Physiological Analysis of the Libido," Psychological Review, 1924, vol. XXXI, p. 198. The word hormone, as used by Lashley is not to be confused with the term horme, used by McDougall above. Hormones or autocoids are glandular products.
  5. Summarized from Mary C. Jones, "The Development of Early Behavior Patterns in Young Children," Pedagogical Seminary & Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1926, vol. XXXIII, pp. 537-85 .
  6. From J.B. Watson in Psychologies of 1925, 1926. Chapter I, p. 35. Courtesy Clark University Press. Solid lines show unlearned, dotted lines, the conditioned behavior.
  7. The Shermans, in their recent book The Process of Human Behavior, 1929, have shown how difficult it is to judge the early expressions of emotions. But for our purposes we need only note the situations which arouse the fundamental emotional reactions.
  8. R. S. Woodworth, Dynamic Psychology, 1918, p. 42. Courtesy of Columbia University Press.

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2