Molarity, Ecological Validity, Objectivity, and the Road to Ethology

R. Van Hezewijk

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This paper focuses on molarity, ecological validity, objectivity, vicarious functioning, and the historical roots of ethology as developed by Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen. Some of their views are shown to go back to ideas of Karl Bühler and another of his students, Egon Brunswik, as well as a one-time visitor of Bühler and Brunswik in Vienna, E.C. Tolman. Especially Bühler’s views on Gestalt, the emphasis on the functional interaction between organism and its environment, and the relation to Bühler’s “organon theory of language” are discussed. The ideas of molarity and Gestalt have found a place in ethology as the new way of explaining behaviour in biology (as alternative to either zoology or physiology in the biology of the 1930’s). Bühler’s theory of the multiple role of signs (as symptom, signal and symbol) in language found its way into Brunswik concept of vicarious functioning and his “lens model”, as well as on Tinbergen’s views on “aims and methods of ethology”.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-214
    Number of pages16
    JournalEuropean Yearbook of the History of Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Bühler
    • Tinbergen
    • Lorenz
    • Brunswik


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