roosx052: March 2012 Archives

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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