Elicited behaviors are involuntary reactions that happen as a result of a specific environmental stimulus (Daffin, 2021). There are two different types of elicited behaviors, which are reflexes and fixed action patterns. A reflex is a simple automatic response to a stimulus, involving one gland or a set of muscles. In fact, there are three kinds of reflexes, the startle response, the orienting response, and flexion. The startle response is a defensive reaction that takes place given a sudden and or unexpected stimulus. In this case, muscles automatically contract and a change within internal organs and hormone regulation takes place. An example of this reflex is an individual's response to a loud noise, seen in the involuntary movement of limbs, often a bending motion, and an avoidance movement of the head, often drifting down towards the shoulder. The orienting response occurs when an individual automatically positions him or herself to facilitate attending to a stimulus. For example, if a dog locates potential prey, it will redirect its body's position, point its tail, and fixate its eyes. Lastly, flexion occurs when an individual automatically pulls away from hot or sharp object, and is usually accompanied by a startle response. An example of flexion can be identified in the kitchen when an individual is putting a tray in the pre-heated oven, accidentally touching the rack and immediately drawing their hand out to nurse the burn.
A fixed action pattern is a sequence of responses elicited by a specific stimulus. They are usually unique to a certain species and as a result, are sometimes referred to as species specific behaviors or instincts. These instincts are adaptive responses that have evolved with an animal to provide a form of consistency within their environment, and once they have begun their course, there is no stopping them. Six specific characteristics help to identify fixed action patterns, and they are as listed: stereotyped, complex, species-characteristic, released, triggered, and independent of experience. Some examples include yawning, mating dances or calls, circling and digging behaviors in dogs, nesting, and web spinning.
Daffin, L. (2021, May 6). Principles of Learning and Behavior. https://opentext.wsu.edu/principles-of-learning-and-behavior/chapter/module-3-elicited-behaviors-and-more/#:~:text=Elicited%20behaviors%20are%20behaviors%20that,the%20strength%20of%20a%20response.