Patterns in the behaviour of organisms

Wolfgang M. Schleidt, Jacqueline Crawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


In the study of organismic behaviour, patterns are abstracted by the human observer on the basis of intuition and gestalt perception, and are subject to errors of judgement. Therefore, we explore here a set of considerations which can provide a new basis for the quantitative study of overt behaviour on a level of objectivity and precision which is equal to that of other biological sciences. We propose to describe behaviour as change, in time, of the animal's location and orientation in space, and of its surface structure. Behaviour patterns can be characterized objectively as locations in an n-dimensional feature space. Such a description of behaviour which is based purely on its form avoids the shortcomings of the current practice of mixing concepts of form, function, causation and purpose, as well as anthropomorphic and anthropocentric biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social and Biological Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes


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