Conflict behavior, Biology tutorial


Conflict behavior is the state of motivation in which tendencies to function more than one activity are deduced concurrently. At any specific moment, an animal has many dissimilar incipient tendencies; however by a process of decision-making, one of such becomes dominant. Usually, only one tendency becomes dominfunctionant, however in certain conditions more than one competes for dominance, and conflict occurs.

Kinds of conflict in animals:

Conflict has generally been categorized into three main kinds:

1) Approach-approach: Conflict takes place when two tendencies in conflict are directed towards various goals. In such a case the animal might reach a point where the two tendencies are in balance. Though, the tendency to approach a goal usually rises with proximity to the goal. This makes approach-approach conflict not stable, as any slight departure from the point of balance, in the direction of one goal, will outcome in an increased tendency towards the other, therefore resolving the conflict. 

2) Avoidance-avoidance: Conflict takes place if the two tendencies in conflict are directed away from various points. Since the tendency to avoid objects usually rises by means of proximity to the object, movement toward either object is probable to outcome in a return to the point of balance. Such conditions are not generally stable, as the animal can escape in a direction at right angles to the line among the two objects.

3) Approach-avoidance: conflict takes place when one activity is directed in the direction of a goal and another away from it. For illustration, an animal might encompass a tendency to approach food, however be frightened of the strange food dish. The closer it approaches the food, the stronger the approach tendency, however the nearer it gets to the dish the stronger the avoidance tendency. The animal can reach the food, only when the approach tendency is bigger than the avoidance tendency. Frequently there is an equilibrium point, some distance from the goal. If the animal approaches beyond this point, avoidance is bigger than approach. If the animal retreats, approach is bigger than avoidance. Such conditions tend to be stable, as the animal is always pulled towards the equilibrium point. 

Approach-avoidance conflict is through far the most significant and most common form of conflict in animal behavior. Usually such conflict is characterized through compromise and ambivalence, particularly close to the point of equilibrium. Irrelevant behavior, like displacement activity, is as well common, as are different forms of display and ritualization. Ritualized conflict behavior often takes place in territorial disputes, and frequently forms the basis of threat display.

Motivational Conflicts:

At times the urge to do something worthy or good or pleasurable is directly opposed by the fact that it comprises pain or inconvenience or hard work. Then the organism is in conflict among the two opposite motives. That is one form of motivational conflict termed as an approach or avoidance conflict. One might as well feel torn among two different pleasures. Or one might be forced to select between two pains. Each of such is a classic motivational conflict. 

Types of classic motivation conflicts:

Classic motivational conflicts are as follows:

1) Approach/avoidance conflicts. The organism is fascinated and repulsed by the similar stimulus or situation.

2) Approach/approach conflicts. The organism is forced to select among the two dissimilar desirable stimuli.

3) Avoidance/avoidance conflicts. The organism is forced to select between the two various undesirable alternatives.

Avoidance tendencies tend to grow stronger as the event approaches. This consists of implications you can view in your own life. A distant event like a dentist appointment might seem desirable and you make plans for it. However as the day approaches, the event appears less desirable, or you are more inclined to ignore it.

This can occur with desirable goals and also things you would instead avoid: it is termed 'getting cold feet'.

What kind of behavior is common in conditions of motivational conflict?

Vacillation (going backward and forward) is common in situations of the motivational conflict. If you are fascinated to a person (an approach tendency) however feel shy and inhibited (that is, an avoidance tendency) you might 'go backward and forward' a lot, in your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. First you lean one manner, then the other. This phenomenon is as well found in control systems where opponent processes are employed. In that context, it is termed as oscillating rather than vacillating. All control systems oscillate if trying to mediate among the two opposing forces and vacillation is one illustration.

Approach-approach conflicts comprise a choice among the two desirable goals if you can just have one. Sitting in front of the display of merchandise, if you can just afford to buy one thing, you might find yourself engaged in the displacement activity like scratching your head. The conflict between large late rewards and short early rewards is a form of approach/approach conflict.

What are the signs of strong motivational conflicts in animals?

Avoidance-avoidance conflicts comprise selecting 'the lesser of two evils'. Animals caught among a fire and a river should select which to face. They are probable to exhibit signs of jumping around, distress, pawing the ground or vocalizing till they plunge into the river. Strong motivational conflicts are as well accompanied through signs of autonomic nervous system arousal: nervousness, sweating, blushing and defecating. Rat researchers generally count rat droppings as a manner of quantifying (joining a number to) the level of anxiety in the rats.

Vacuum, Displacement and Redirected Activities:

We have observed that action patterns are frequently triggered through a highly specific stimulus that the Ethologists termed as a sign stimulus or releaser. Though, at times action patterns appear for no obvious reason at all. Vacuum activity is the name Lorenz offer to behaviors set off for no apparent reason, 'in a vacuum'.

Lorenz recommended that animals have a requirement to exercise biologically natural behaviors, even when the behavior has no function. For illustration, Lorenz kept a fly-catching bird as an indoor pet. At times he let the bird fly around the room for exercise. He observed that, however there were no insects present, the bird snapped at imaginary insects in the air. There was no reason to do so; the bird was merely exercising its instinctive action pattern. Lorenz termed this a vacuum activity.

What is a vacuum activity?

Likewise, squirrels raised from birth in a metal cage will go via the whole series of nut-burying activities, in spite of the lack of dirt or a nut in the cage. The squirrel scratches fast on the metal cage floor, digging an imaginary hole, takes its imaginary nut and buries it in the imaginary hole, lastly patting the metal floor as if pushing dirt and leaves over a buried nut.

What is displacement activity?

Displacement activities as explained by Lorenz are motor programs which seem to discharge tension or anxiety. For illustration, if one is trying to entice a squirrel to come up and take a peanut, the squirrel becomes conflicted-caught among two incompatible drives. This wishes the nut, however it fears humans. The squirrel is caught between the approach and avoidance tendencies; however it can't do both at once. It becomes obviously edgy. It might take some hops toward the human holding the peanut, then scratch itself all of a sudden or make a few digging movements. This doesn't signify the squirrel itches or requires digging a hole. Lorenz proposed it was 'breaking the tension' caused through competing urges.

What are the illustrations of displacement activities in humans? What research occurs in the waiting room of the dentist's office?

Humans carry out displacement activities. One study comprised a hidden video camera in a dentist's office waiting room. People waiting to encompass cavities filled exhibited all kinds of displacement actions, scratching their heads, wringing their hands, stroking non-existent beards, tugging at earlobes, flipping via magazines at one page per second and so on. People waiting for X-rays or teeth cleaning showed fewer of these activities. Similar to the squirrels approaching a human holding a nut, patients waiting to encompass cavities filled were caught among the two contradictory impulses. They wished to get the cavities filled; however they probably wished to leave, as well. Therefore they functions nervous activities.

What is redirected activity?

Redirected activity is a third instance of action patterns awakened in unusual conditions. Lorenz stated a redirected activity as a behavior which is redirected from a threatening or inaccessible target to the other target which is more convenient or less threatening.

For illustration, flocks of chickens form a pecking order. Chickens make a rigid dominance hierarchy based on the status differences respected through all animals in the group. In a chicken coop, each and every chicken consists of some other chickens it can peck (as they are less dominant) and a few it can't peck (as they are more dominant, generally bigger). At the top of the hierarchy is a chicken which can peck all the others however gets pecked by nobody. At the bottom of the pecking order is a chicken, generally scrawny or unhealthy that gets pecked through all the others.


A behavior alike to what Guthrie noticed in the puzzle-box. Great significance was joined to the manner in which their 'learning' was deduced. The responses of animals were explained as highly stereotyped, having long sequence of movements repeated 'in remarkable detail from trial to trial.

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