The division of the flux of behavior

“The objectives of the analysis are to discern the extent to which the splitting of the behavioral stream into discrete events is arbitrary (e.g., whether raised tail and horizontal tail are two different patterns which affect behavior in different ways, or might be included under one pattern: “tail not lower than horizontal”), to determine the degree to which these events are mutually constrained,and to describe their significance in terms of their relatedness to other events.

Jackal behavior is viewed in this paper as a mosaic of discrete behavioral events, though one of the fruits of the analysis is a verification (or refutation) of the significance to the animals themselves of those elements the human observer believes to be “discrete”.

This program also enables us to check to what extent the division of the flux of behavior into events coincides with the division made by the animals themselves.

While the human observer splits this pattern into two distinct events, the jackals apparently refer to them as synonymous (Synonymity is defined here as occurrence in similar system events. The same events may not be synonymous from the point of view of temporal significance)

Conventionally, mammalian behavior is viewed as a sequence of one behavior pattern at a time (e.g.,Altmani 1965). Once a behavior pattern, intuitively conceived as performed by the whole animal, is fractionated (e.g., into tail position, ear position, bristling, etc.), constancy disappears. We then move into what Elasser calls a “highly heterogeneous universe of discourse” (I966) with a high degree of openness. To find regularity in such a fractionated system is difficult because once different sequences with different regularities are brought together into one “pool” and analyzed as one universe of discourse, the different regularities may average each other out and structure”dissolves”into a kind of “behavioral homogenate”. But if each sequence is treated as a separate universe of discourse, its distinct structure will be retained and it will be possible to relate it to other observed regularities.

However, instantaneousness is a complex logical concept, where an instant is conceived as deprived of all temporal extension.

Now that the behavior pattern is fractionated and cut in various directions, the question arises as to the significance of the events that form it.

Operationally, the existence of a change in the extrinsic significance of events means that analysis should be aimed at pointing out the nature of the change rather than to look for non-mutable significances. In order to be able to trace this change, the structural intricacies of significance should be retained, as they are in the pictorial representations of the MSA and not dissolved by general theory-loaded, all-embracing concepts.”

Ilan Golani

(excerpts from  Non-metric analysis of behavioural interaction sequences in captive jackals, 1973)