Konrad Lorenz

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Lorenz, Konrad

(kôn`rät lôr`ĕnts), 1903–89, Austrian zoologist and ethologist. He received medical training at the Univ. of Vienna and spent two years at the medical school of Columbia Univ. He received a Ph.D. (1936) in zoology from the Univ. of Munich and subsequently taught at Vienna and Königsberg. For his work in establishing the science of ethology, particularly his studies concerning the organization of individual and group behavior patterns, Lorenz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1973. He derived his insights into behavior from studying fish and birds, most extensively the greylag goose. With Oscar Heinroth, he discovered imprinting, an especially rapid and relatively irreversible learning process that occurs early in the individual's life. A central concept complementary to imprinting is the innate release mechanism, whereby organisms are genetically predisposed to be especially responsive to certain stimuli. Some of his views are expressed in the popular book On Aggression (tr. 1966). His assertion that aggressive impulses are to a degree innate, and the analogies he draws between human and animal behavior, have engendered considerable controversy. After World War II, a Max Planck Institute was established for Lorenz's group of students and coworkers in ethology. Lorenz is a foreign member of the Royal Society of London.

Lorenz, Konrad


Born Nov. 7, 1903, in Vienna. Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and animal psychologist.

Lorenz studied at New York University and the University of Vienna. Beginning in 1940, he was a professor in Konigsberg. In 1950 he became director of the Institute for the Physiology of Behavior of the Max Planck Society (Federal Republic of Germany) in Buldern (since 1955 in Seewiesen, Bavaria). Lorenz is one of the founders of the science of animal behavior—ethology. Together with N. Tinbergen he worked out the theory of instinctive behavior and its development in ontogenesis and phylogenesis. He has done basic research on early learning (imprinting) and its importance in shaping the behavior of adult animals and on the origin, development, and “ritualization” of expressive postures, body movements, and other forms of animal communication in phylogenesis. He has also studied the motivation of behavior and the interaction of the internal and external factors responsible for it. In a number of cases he has erroneously applied the biological laws of animal behavior to man and human society. Lorenz was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1973.


Das sogenannte Böse. Zur Naturgeschichte der Aggression. Vienna, 1963.
Über tierisches und menschliches Verhalten, vols. 1-2. Munich [1966].
Evolution and Modification of Behavior. Chicago, 1965.
In Russian translation:
Kol’tso tsaria Solomona. Moscow, 1970.
Chelovek nakhodit druga. Moscow, 1971.