Displacement activity

Displacement activity

A displacement activity is the result of two contradicting instincts in a particular situation. Birds, for example, may peck at grass when uncertain whether to attack or flee from an opponent; similarly, a human may scratch his or her head when they do not know which of two options to choose.

Displacement activities often involve actions to bring comfort such as scratching, drinking or feeding.

The first description of a displacement activity (though not the use of the term) is probably by Julian Huxley in 1914.[1][2] The subsequent development of research on displacement activities was a direct consequence of Konrad Lorenz's works on instincts. However, the first mentions of the phenomenon came in 1940 by the two Dutch researchers Nikolaas Tinbergen and Adriaan Kortlandt.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Huxley J. 1914. The courtship habits of the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus); with an addition to the theory of sexual selection. Proc Zool Soc Lond 647-655.
  2. ^ Huxley J. 1970. Memories. Allen & Unwin, London, p89-90.
  3. ^ Displacement Activities and Arousal

External links