An introduction to social psychology, 14th edition by William McDougall

By William McDougall

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We may suppose that, after repetition of the experience, the sight of a man directly excites the instinctive process in its affective and conative aspects only; or we may say, in physiological terms, that the visual disposition concerned in the elaboration of the retinal impression of the human form becomes directly connected or associated with the central and efferent parts of the instinctive disposition, which thus acquires, through the repetition of this experience, a new afferent inlet through which it may henceforth be excited independently of its innate afferent inlet.

These few instances of purely instinctive behaviour illustrate clearly its nature. 8 In treating of the instincts of animals, writers have usually described them as innate tendencies to certain kinds of action, and Herbert Spencer’s widely accepted definition of instinctive action as compound reflex action takes account only of the behaviour or movements to which instincts give rise. But instincts are more than innate tendencies or dispositions to certain kinds of movement. There is every reason to believe that even the most purely instinctive action is the outcome of a distinctly mental process, one which is incapable of being described in purely mechanical terms, because it is a psycho-physical process, involving psychical as well as physical changes, and one which, like every other mental process, has, and can only be fully described in terms of, the three aspects of all mental process—the cognitive, the affective, and the conative aspects; that is to say, every instance of instinctive behaviour involves a knowing of some thing or object, a feeling in regard to it, and a striving towards or away from that object.

Nevertheless, popular opinion is, I think, in the right in attributing to the animals in their moments of self-display the germ of the emotion that is the most essential constituent of pride. It is this primary emotion which may be called positive self-feeling or elation, and which might well be called pride, if that word were not required to denote the sentiment of pride. In the simple form, in which it is expressed by the self-display of animals, it does not necessarily imply self-consciousness.

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