Animal behavior is different from human behavior in terms of attachment to the infants. Attachment refers to the emotional bond between the infant and the caregiver. It refers to a relationship between individuals in which the person gives effort in order to have bond as infant grows. Attachment among animals renders in a more different way. It’s called imprinting.
Konrad Lorenz, a European zoologist and ethologist conducted a study on the behavioral attachment of geese. He separated the eggs of the goose into two groups. The first group is to be hatched with the mother goose. The second group is to be hatched in the incubator. His prediction on the first group of goslings came out exactly as he predicted. They followed the mother as they were already hatched. On the second group those eggs that hatched in the incubator followed Lorenz. He labeled two boxes where he’s going to put the two groups of goslings. First box was labeled “mother goose” and the second box was labeled as “mother Lorenz. He then coined the term “imprinting.” It’s the tendency of an offspring of a certain animal mostly those egg laying animals such as ducks and geese to create attachment to the first moving object, animal or humans they see or hear. Imprinting for the goslings took 36 hours after they hatched. Whatever Lorenz did or wherever he goes the goslings followed him. There is that one time when he went for a swim, as the goslings are already growing up they still followed him through the water. Imprinting is a very rapid and innate process within a critical period of time.
Imprinting is very important in the natural world. It acts as a survival instinct for the animals. They must immediately recognize the parent to avoid threatening events such as attacks of predators and also adults. It also gives them security as to where they are going to live and also protects as the weather changes. Imprinting is really reliable in the formation of a strong social bond between the offspring and the parent.
Lorenz thought that imprinting is different from associative learning because firstly there is a critical period or fixed time as it takes place. Secondly, it seems that it is irreversible, as associative fades in time or the “forgetting process.” Lastly he proposed that imprinting is not an individual memory process, which is only learned by certain or specific animals that experiences learning unlike the associative learning which is a general process.
Imprinting’s contribution to science is very helpful that which understands more on the interaction of innate and species-specific behavior which is a special kind learning which is called “perceptual learning.” These studies showed that animal species are able to learn specific types of behavior so that it helps the survival of the species