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A common heritage of behaviour systems

Bowers, Robert Ian
animal behavior, physiology, psychology
Behaviour systems theory had its beginnings with Nikolaas Tinbergen’s “hierarchical systems”, an aspect of his thinking and writing that he conspicuously left out of his very memorable 1963 manifesto. This starting point has since been developed within psychology, where it has provided numerous advances. Tinbergen’s aspiration for behaviour systems had been principled integration of ethology with physiology, but the bridge among sciences it ultimately provided led to psychology. To an ethology audience, this paper attempts to reintroduce behaviour systems as a part of Tinbergen’s legacy to make accessible the theoretical developments of behaviour systems theory that have occurred outside of ethology over the last several decades. To a psychology audience, the paper serves as a reminder of the ethological origins of behaviour systems. Both sciences and their integration stand to benefit from recognising this point of common heritage.