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Can instinct be analysed psychologicly?

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 77,696 ✭✭✭✭ Victor


    Case A: A man is walking down a country road. A medium-sized dog comes running, barking and showing teeth. The man imagines the dog attacking him.

    Instinct: run away.
    Learned response: stand your ground, take a defensive posture, act like you belong there, ignore dog or address dog assertively.

    Case B: two people are in discussion in an office, one suddenly feels frightened / threatened by the conversation, but can quite place the threat.

    Instinct: hit the other person, reassess threat.
    Learned response: realise there is no physical threat, reassess threat.

    It's me in both cases have these instincts, the second person in the office is a psych (I didn't punch her, but imagined it). She took my response as aggressive, which I reject. I was merely "defending" myself. I contend that instinct is not emotional, it is "pre-emotion". I think the accusation is akin to accusing someone defending themselves from a random attack of being aggressive.

    Comments?


Comments



  • I dunno. its hard to make out the emotional relevance of the cases you present (which are interesting in relation to the instinct q).
    Are you the suggesting the causal prority of instinct in fight or flight situations, maybe instinct precedes emotional and
    all other responses (if you can indeed speak of an emotional 'response') but influences them in turn as part of a process that leads to response.
    or maybe you are suggesting the exclusive status or causal primacy of instinct in such situations... as the sole determinant in explanations
    of response ... is emotion irrelevanced, or indeed absent in such situations?
    Don't have a fiddlers tbh! What is emotion anyway? A mere quality of experience? am pretty clueless when it comes to psychology.




  • Hi Victor. Maybe it's more simple. Perhaps she picked up a lot from your non-verbal behaviour (gestures, body language, movement, facial expression) and your para-verbals (tone, volume, cadence). If you were in fact feeling agitated, frustrated or angry with her chances are that this leaked out, despite your best efforts. BTW, when you say she's a psych, what do you mean?




  • what you describe may be the fight or flight adaptive response. it is caused by activation of the sympathetic system, increased blood pressure and heart rate, dilated eyes, all responses to enable the person to respond quickly eg to run away or to stand ground. all animals and people have this response and it is a result of an evolutionary process whereby our body prepares itself to run aware from the said threat (eg. increase blood low to leg muscles), or to fight / stand our ground (decrease in blood flow to organs which are not vital in influencing fight outcome eg kidneys etc, in your case flow to the CNS or brain increases, ever heard the expression hot under the collar?! you try and get rid of excess heat caused by an increase in blood flow, eg blushing; the vessels dilate and increase the surface expiration of heat). when we calm down our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and it has the opposite effect. both systems from part of the autonomic system and therefore are involuntary but are influenced by the external and internal environment.

    btw im wrecked from studying at the mo so sorry for any bad spelling.




  • Myksyk wrote:
    Hi Victor. Maybe it's more simple. Perhaps she picked up a lot from your non-verbal behaviour (gestures, body language, movement, facial expression) and your para-verbals (tone, volume, cadence).
    No, I don't think so. She was surprised when I mentioned the punching thing. Maybe she was jus playing the game, but I don't think so.
    If you were in fact feeling agitated, frustrated or angry with her chances are that this leaked out, despite your best efforts.
    No it was fear, brought on by revisting past fears, there was no present threat. While I closely associate fear and anger, they anger was undeveloped.
    BTW, when you say she's a psych, what do you mean?
    Psychotherapist.




  • the natural instinct for a animal or human is to protect themselves if they are fearful which might be why you imagined the punch. 90% of body language is non- verbal , maybe she noticed you we're starring at her and felt intimidated. a lot of things we do with our body we don't even notice. it does sound a bit like the fight or flight response though.

    Victor did you feel like you we're burning up or numb like you couldn't do anything to protect yourself?


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  • snorlax wrote:
    did you
    I'm a human being, not a subject!!!!! :p;)




  • edited :)!

    an interesting note according to psychology research is that women are better then men at decoding/ interpreting facial expressions.

    "women have a general superiority over men when it comes to decoding facial expressions . . ." (Burgoon et al. 1989:360).




  • There are different types of instincts and different levels from simple primitive reflexes (such as a knee jerk) to complex patterns like learning to drive or ride a bike. You don't actually think about them when you do it, but you did when you were learning.

    Same thing - it is instinctive to draw your hand away from a painful response, but you can overcome the reflex. (Patient who stays still for example when getting an injection - children and demented people don't - because they have lost the ability or never learned it).

    Likewise it is possible to control other aspects such as what yogas or martial arts do with training.




  • but the fear reponse is probably the strongest and most prevalent in all mammals and people. eg kids get frightened of loud noises easily because they don't know what to expect and they have physiological responses as a result of that. the fear response is probably the most innate one in that it is present when we are born and is an adaptive response to an unfamiliar stimulus.

    it certainly is possible to control the response using biofeedback eg checking skin temperature etc when aroused by a stimulus, and then of course you can use that to control the response eg calming down the sympathetic nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.




  • snorlax wrote:
    but the fear reponse is probably the strongest and most prevalent in all mammals and people. eg kids get frightened of loud noises easily because they don't know what to expect and they have physiological responses as a result of that. the fear response is probably the most innate one in that it is present when we are born and is an adaptive response to an unfamiliar stimulus.

    I'd say the disgust factor is stronger. I can be afraid of a lot of things but it's a lot easier to overcome a fear then to eat vomit for example.


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  • in evotionary terms it's kind of essential to be able to fend off/ run away from a threat or you could get eaten etc. of course humans have a higher cognitive functions mainly attributed to the frontal lobes/ executive functions so they can control this but insticts like fear still remain even though they don't really have that much of a function anymore considering we're kind of on the top of the food chain and the only thing we're likely to get eaten by is micro-organisms and possibly ticks/ fleas etc.
    i guess the vomiting reaction would be present to stop people eating gone-off meat as it may be contaiminated and make them ill, so the disgust factor exists. but id say the fear factor is possibly as potent as ever and often manifests itself in others ways like stress etc when the nervous system becomes overcharged. it would be interesting to run a correlational study of both factors to see which is stronger.




  • Is it true that fear of loud noises and fear of falling are the only fears which can be properly described as 'instinctual'? In these cases, are there clear biological explanations for their survival?




  • No, fear of snakes is instinctual in primates. Even if they are raised in captivity having never seen a snake they will freak if one is put in the cage or if they see a photo of one. However you can lesion part of their brain (the name escapes me right now) and throw a snake in their cage and they'll ignore it.

    Snorlax, many studies have been done with fear and conditioned taste aversion in conditioning experiments. The fear conditioning shows a much shorter extinction rate compared to conditioned taste aversion (the taste of something linked to feeling sick). The CTA can last for an insanely long time.




  • i would be interested to read these experiments, do you have any at hand?i think the effect fear has on the nervous system is pretty interesting to look at as it affects all most every organ in the body. i may some day be working with people with phobias/ anxiety disorders so i have to know the physiological basis for it.

    this all reminds me of the iron stomach competition in college where they had to eat their own sick after eatting an insane amout of food




  • I have a load of papers in a box upstairs somewhere, I'll have a look for you.




  • snorlax wrote:
    i guess the vomiting reaction would be present to stop people eating gone-off meat
    Or something has crawled into your mouth and is trying to eat the nice fleshy bits .... :eek:




  • I have a related question to fight or flight.

    I freeze. I was burgled twice in Dublin and both times I couldn't move. Completely immobile. I was terrified. Heart rate up. But couldnt fight or flee even if I wanted to.




  • It happens. I suspect its down to playing possum / demonstrating you aren't a threat to your oponent.




  • John2 wrote:
    Snorlax, many studies have been done with fear and conditioned taste aversion in conditioning experiments. The fear conditioning shows a much shorter extinction rate compared to conditioned taste aversion (the taste of something linked to feeling sick). The CTA can last for an insanely long time.
    Yeah as was explained to us in psy, the taste aversion is much stronger because if you eat dodgy food just once you could die.
    On an interesting (i.e., barely related in any way) side-note, the reason rats are so hard to kill is because they have an aversion to anything new and won't go near rat poison. This evolved because the rat does not have a vomit reflex.

    Regarding the whole fight-or-flight thing, in the situation mentioned in the posts above this one, the effect of shock is outweighing the excitatory/stimulating effect of adrenaline. To play dead is probably an evolutionary response which occurs in certain situations, like when an animal has no chance of winning or indeed outpacing a predator. IMO it's another remnant of our evolutionary history which happens to apply itself inappropriately in humans, as we've lost all need for it.


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