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Science

Behaviour

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Instinct

Here are two examples of instinctive behaviour in animals:

  • a bird building a nest
  • a spider spinning its web

Instincts are useful because they do not have to be learned and they can be complex, like the examples above. Instincts let animals form groups for protection, choose mates, fight to be in charge, and show many other behaviours.

Reflexes

Reflexes are a type of instinct. They happen automatically because of a particular stimulus. For example, if your hand touches something hot by accident, it automatically and quickly moves away. You do not have to learn to do this.

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Instinct is not learned behaviour

When the school bell rings at the end of break time, the students leave the playground and go to their lessons. People may say that the students are acting on instinct. But they would be wrong.

An instinct is a behaviour that happens automatically without any learning needed. The students have learned that the bell is a signal to do something, so leaving the playground when the bell rings is not an instinct. It is learned behaviour.

Activity

Behaviour activity

Is it instinct or conditioning that makes you study science?

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