Konrad Lorenz: The Scientist of Ethology

Topics: Ethology, Konrad Lorenz, Instinct Pages: 6 (1915 words) Published: May 29, 2013
Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Lorenz was well known as a scientist in the field of ethology, and his field in the study of animal behavior shaped society today. His theories and discoveries in his life were a breakthrough in the field of ethology, but examining the factors that affected his life like his family, work, and even his dog played an important role in his work. Lorenz and other scientist popularize the study and function of animal behavior and instinct. Lorenz’s research focused the behaviors in animals which in turn reflected to the human society that he compares it to.

Lorenz was born in Vienna, Austria on November 7, 1903 as the second born son to a physician mother named Emma Lecher and an orthopedic surgeon father named Adolf Lorenz. Lorenz studied at one the finest elementary schools in his home town and his intense love for animals sparked due to the fact he has had many pets in his household like fish, monkey, birds, cats, dogs, and rabbits. Being from a rich family and from his excursions, Lorenz had achieved many pets and began studying them at a young age. At the age of 10, Lorenz’s interest thoroughly expanded when he read Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and from that point the young, ambitious mind of Konrad Lorenz wanted to expand his interest, and knowledge of animals.

Adolf Lorenz, father of Konrad Lorenz, wanted his second born, Konrad Lorenz, to attend Columbia University in New York. Konrad followed his father’s wishes and study his premedical training, and from there he transferred back home to the University of Vienna where he continued his medical studies. At the University of Vienna, his love for animals couldn’t go away so he took a zoology class, and from there he concocted his premature theories.

He earned his medical degree and he became a medical assistant in the institute. He continued to study in the zoology program at the university and later Lorenz earned his degree. During that summer of 1935, Lorenz concocted one of his many famous theories while studying the graylag geese. Newly hatched eggs from the geese would easily accept a new foster mother if and only if the biological mother isn’t there. Lorenz called this behavior “imprinting” where not only the geese but other species as well can adapt to a new mother. Lorenz compared it to human society where it can be relatable where a human baby can also adapt to a foster mother, but not as well as the graylag geese and other species did.

Lorenz’s contributions to the study of animal behavior were immense, but his work on the development of social relationships especially the phenomenon deserves a special note. In his research, Lorenz emphasized the importance of the direct observation of animal behavior under natural conditions. One of the theoretical strengths of Lorenz's work was his attempt to combine evolutionary and causal explanations of behavior. The fledgling science of ethology was founded in the early 1930s by Oscar Heinroth, director of the Berlin aquarium, with whom Lorenz had a long-standing friendship. That relationship profoundly affected Lorenz's view of the science of studying behavior. One of Lorenz's earliest contributions was the introduction of the concept of angeborener Auslosemechanismus ("innate releasing mechanism" or IRM). Also, in 1935 Lorenz coined the term Pragung, or "imprinting, " to denote the rapid process of learning during the sensitive period in early development.

Lorenz became a professor at the University of Vienna for teaching about comparison of anatomies and animal psychology. Few years later, he switched to the University of Konisberg where he lectured about the comparison of animal psychology instead of anatomies. His career of a professor was soon destroyed when he became part of the draft in the German army.

Before World War II, Lorenz joined the National Socialist Party and many shared the exact same views as he did. Lorenz was drafted in the German army...
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