Imprinting Isn't Just For the Werewolves...

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Disclaimer: Please don't judge me too harshly for the Twilight reference.

When I read the term imprinting on page 385 of the textbook, I am embarrassed to say that I immediately thought about werewolves from Twilight. Stephenie Meyer, author of the famous Twilight series, cleverly chose the term "imprinting" to describe werewolves tendency to find another person and be bound to them for life.

In reality, imprinting is the process of young geese following around the first large, moving object they see after hatching. Once a gosling has imprinted on something or someone, it becomes largely fixated on it, and is unlikely to follow or bond with anything else. While nearly 100% of the time the first large, moving object that the gosling sees is its mother, Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz found that they will cheerfully imprint onto whatever large, moving object they see first, including Lorenz himself.

While humans don't imprint the way geese do, we exhibit a "softer" form of imprinting on those who care for us soon after birth. Think of a time when you were caring for a young child and it cried when the mother left the room, this exhibits a soft form of imprinting.

Werewolves, like young goslings, imprint on a single person and are "fixated" on that one person. Think of Jacob imprinting on Bella's daughter. He became her shadow, like the baby goslings do to their mother. However, while the two uses of the term are similar, Stephenie Meyer's use of it can be misleading in that werewolves imprint out of love, not instinctively for survival like goslings do.

Here is Jacob explaining the process of imprinting to Bella from Twilight.


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Nice distinction between imprinting in werewolves and imprinting in goslings! What makes imprinting in humans "softer" than imprinting in geese? I know the differences are somewhat obvious, but it would be interesting to see them clearly laid out.

I like that you connected the connected the Twilight definition of imprinting to out textbooks definition because when I first heard about the context that Twilight used 'imprinting' in I was annoyed because it didn't make sense.
It's interesting how us as humans have our own way of imprinting on our care takers the way geese imprint on the first moving object they see. It would be even more interesting if humans did imprint in the same way geese do. Imagine how that would work out.

Ha! Reference made post awesome! And a very interesting connection! It's funny how we do imprint though, with our parents or siblings. If you think about it we don't really leave our parent's sides for a LONG time and then when we venture out is it not as a tag-along to our older siblings(should we have them)? Or even those crazy stories you hear about people being brought up by animals is a form of imprinting.(Tarzan anyone? ;D ) Anyway, it seems like geese are more likely to stay with the same object where people can bond/fixate on multiple objects but I think the same principle applies for the most part.

The whole imprinting example did remind me of Tarzan but it also reminded me of The Jungle Book. It does strike me as odd even how young children do a slight form of this while they are young in particular. I have a baby cousin and whenever her mother leaves the room she immediately begins to have a tantrum. It makes me wonder if the degree of connectedness, or the imprinting, varies.

I think it is funny how the goslings just follow any large moving object. It makes sense though, if thinking in evolutionary concept. Goslings who followed a large moving creature capable of protection would have been safer than others assuming that large moving creature isn't a predator.

I was so surprised that was actually a real life thing. It is a very interest concept that as a gosling emerges from its egg that it can imprint. It's interest that at such a young age (just hatched) a gosling can feel such a strong attraction to really anything they see. I might someday just have to appear before a hatching gosling, so that I'm imprinted upon and have a gosling follow me around all day :) just kidding.

Imprinting is an interesting concept. It makes sense because a baby is going to be the most attached to whomever can provide for it seeing as it cannot survive on its own. I think that it is funny that the Twilight series uses this term for instantly falling in love with someone, but I guess it makes sense.

This reminds me of the movie, "Fly Away Home" in which the geese become fixed on a young girl who needs to then lead them south for the winter! The idea of imprinting is really something extraordinary. I think it's amazing how they imprint on only living, nurturing things. However, it is extremely unfortunate when it is not the geese's mother. Love the twilight reference, that was the first thing I thought of in class too!

I didn't even think of this movie when reading about it because it has been such a long time since I've seen it, but you are so right! It is a perfect example of imprinting, so much better than Twilight.

I love that I wasn't the only one to connect it to Twilight though, it goes to show how much popular culture influences our trains of thought.

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This page contains a single entry by roosx052 published on March 26, 2012 2:30 AM.

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