Letter | Published:

Observations on Bird Behaviour

Nature volume 155, page 82 (20 January 1945) | Download Citation



E. M. Stephenson and Chas. Stewart describe certain actions of a sparrow in what many students of animal behaviour would call somewhat anthropomorphic terms1. They then remark that: "It is usually stated that all bird behaviour is instinctive. Much of it can, of course, be adequately described by this term. It seems inadequate, however, to speak as though the whole of animal behaviour... can be classified under one of two terms—instinct or intelligence. Such stultified and obsolete terminology has long since been advanced upon by the psychologist dealing with human behaviour." But, by most modern animal psychologists such stultified and obsolete terminology is not employed. It seems, moreover, doubtful whether the study of animal behaviour would necessarily be advanced if, as suggested, investigators used "terms for all the grades of specific psychic phenomena", whether the word 'psychic' be used 'legitimately' or not.

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  1. 1.

    Nature, 154, 801 (1944).

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  1. Bedford College for Women, University of London.

    • H. MUNRO FOX


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