psychohydraulic model

On twitter, @mnxmnkmnd¬†pointed me to Lorenz’ model of ‘psychohydraulics‘ as a theory of behavior. Wut?

From a book chapter¬†(I can’t figure out which book):

Lorenz introduced the (artificial) concept of an action-specific energy, ac- cumulating in a tank with a valve. In this model, the level of action-specific energy is raised as a result of the passage of time (if the behavior is not being executed), leading to the eventual opening of the valve, and the flow of action-specific energy into a bucket with several holes on different levels, represent- ing different aspects of the behavior in question. The flow of action-specific behavior into the bucket can also be increased by external factors, represented by weights on a scale, connected to the valve by means of a string. As the energy flows into the bucket, the low-threshold parts of the behavior are im- mediately expressed, and higher-threshold aspects are expressed if the level of energy reaches sufficiently high. Before proceeding with a simple set of equations for this model, one should note that the modern view of motivation is more complex than the simple feedback model just described.

Wut? Here’s some equations, because that makes everything easier to understand:


Remember, they’re talking about animal motivation. This is what happens when you win a Nobel prize.

Here is more explanation and digressions.