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The Conflict Between Drives in the Courtship and Copulation of the Chaffinch

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image of Behaviour

1. Several recent studies have shown threat to be the result of two conflicting tendencies-to attack and flee from the rival. In this paper the courtship of the Chaffinch is analysed in a similar way. The tendencies involved are attacking, fleeing and courting. 2. The main behaviour patterns used in aggressive behaviour are described. Threat displays are used most in those situations where the conflict of drives is most acute. 3. The male Chaffinch is dominant to the female in winter. During the Spring a reversal of dominance takes place, and at the time of nesting the female dominates the male. 4. This reversal of dominance is primarily due to the influence of the male's sex drive on his attacking drive, causing a change in the balance between the male's tendencies to attack and flee from the female. Although-male sex hormone normally increases aggressiveness, it also influences the male's sex drive: activation of the sex drive (s.s.) reduces aggressiveness. 5. Courtship and copulation are described. 6. Attempts to copulate may be unsuccessful if the sex drives of both individuals are not sufficient to inhibit aggressive behaviour. 7. The male's displays occur in those situations where his tendencies to approach (court) and flee from the female are in approximate balance. The intensity of the displays depends on the intensity of the conflict. A similar analysis can be applied to the behaviour of the female. 8. The various constituent movements used in courtship are probably derived from intention movements, and are all expressions of one of the three drives-sex, attacking or fleeing. 9. The male's sexual chases are attempts to copulate by force, and may have a stimulating effect on the female.

Affiliations: 1: (Ornithological Field Station, Dept. of Zoology, Cambridge University


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