Animal Behavior: InstinctSummary The term instinct is commonly thought of as describing behavior that is pre-programmed and requires no thought. An instinctive response happens automatically and is the same across all individuals of a species. While this seems like a clearly defined category, not all behavior is so cut and dry. Many behaviors have both genetically pre-programmed and learned aspects. The degree to which certain behaviors, especially in humans, are pre-determined is often a subject of intense debate. When looking at instinctive behaviors, we must first understand the terminology used to describe such behaviors, and then we must consider some of the concerns involved in studying them. Any thing or event that triggers a behavior is called a key stimulus (KS). Key stimuli produce fixed action patterns (FAP) through innate releasing mechanisms (IRM). Several KS may be needed to trigger an FAP and different degrees of a KS can result in different strength FAP response.
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