In this video the baby impala does not seem to be exhibiting the classic fear responses of Fight, Flight or Freeze.

Which fear response is this?


  • $\begingroup$ The actions in the YouTube video are not the actions of a fear response. The impala possibly could have been playing as suggested in the caption. Some fears are innate whilst some are learnt. Sometimes fear can be completely removed. I will try and put together more of an answer later today. $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Apr 22 '19 at 7:22

It's probably not a fear response. Young animals (and human children) sometimes lack it in some contexts. See the controversy with the fear of snakes in children.

Looking at a two similar videos lioness vs impala calf of young lion vs oryx calf however, besides some moments of confusion of the calfs, they do one of two things: face the predator head on (which would work if they had grown horns) or try to suddenly sprint away, which is again not easy for the them to pull off being so young.

So it is a mixture of fight, flight, and probably some confusion as well. There's this notion of learned helplessness but it's a bit of stretch to apply it to any of those videos, in my opinion.

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  • $\begingroup$ That’s interesting and I hadn’t considered that. However I’ve seen similar encounters where the impala runs away and we could assume that is a FEAR (as opposed to a PLAY) response. Then there’s this from Isaac Marks where he describes submission as a fear response: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jts.2490020111 Would I be on shaky ground if I were to propose a 4th response, namely FOLD? This could account for submission (as per above) and I would propose Stockholm Syndrome in humans. I’m interested in whether this generalises to obedience before power, eg in the workplace. $\endgroup$ – Nick H Apr 23 '19 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @NickH - I am sorry that I have not had the time yet to put a full answer together, and it looks like I won't have much time until the beginning of next week. But in response to your addition of fold, there are 5 responses in the "fight-flight" response. That's Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn, and Faint. The last is sometimes referred to as flop and sometimes fright. I have often referred to it in answers here as the 5F response $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Apr 25 '19 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ Brilliant Chris thank you - exactly the kind of answer I was looking for 👍 $\endgroup$ – Nick H Apr 26 '19 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers: what is "fawn" supposed to mean in this context? Because the calfs clearly aren't fainting... $\endgroup$ – SX welcomes ageist gossip Apr 26 '19 at 11:20
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/83999/… $\endgroup$ – SX welcomes ageist gossip Apr 26 '19 at 11:29

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