What is imprinting and what role does it play in the early development of the individual? What is its theoretical importance for understanding the mechanisms of instinct and learning? What is its significance in the development of the young of our own species? This book attempts to answer all these questions.
In recent years imprinting has attracted much interest. This has been in no small measure the result of the admirable writings of Konrad Lorenz. The continued interest in this field of research has been bound up with the realization among students of behavior that imprinting and imprinting-like processes may be highly significant in the ontogenetic development of very many species, possibly including our own. The study of imprinting has become an area of collaboration between zoologists, who were the initiators of the research, and psychologists, who promptly took it up and extended it.
Imprinting and Early Learning is a compendium of the data and experimental reports on the youthful study of imprinting and early learning-a progress report that traces the history of interest in the theory of imprinting and similar processes, considers imprinting side by side with related concepts and empirical studies, reviews the full range of experiments that illuminate the characteristic nature of imprinting, elucidates the relationship of imprinting to conditioning and early learning, and points out the implications of imprinting for work in educational, social and abnormal psychology.