Aggressive/Defensive terminology...food for thought

edesign

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I've been noticing a lot of threads lately (whether or not there's actually more than usual I don't know) where people keep asking and talking about "aggressive" T's. I thought there was a thread about this a while back but I dug through 10 pages of search engine results and didn't find it :(

Anyway...I think it's time to break out the dictionary because the term "aggressive" is being completely misused in 90% of these cases (or more). Aggressive and defensive are not the same thing by a long shot...taken from dictionary.com:

AGGRESSIVE
1. characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing
DEFENSIVE
1. serving to defend; protective
ok...now, that's not as good a definition as "aggressive" so let's look at the word "defend", from the American Heritage Dictionary via dictionary.com

DEFEND
1. To make or keep safe from danger, attack, or harm.
See the difference? :) Most T's do not go out of their way to come out of their tank (aka their home, their burrow *many species consider the entire tank their burrow*, etc) to try and tag you. If you stick your hand or another object in their burrow (tank) then you are invading THEIR territory and they are defending it.

Just like someone who is in a guard tower defending a gate is not going to climb down, walk 1 mile out past the perimeter, shoot someone, and then go back to the tower...that is not defensive, that is aggressive. Now, if someone were to come beating on the gate with explosive strapped to them and the guard shoots them...THAT is being defensive. See the difference?

I don't know why but it just irks me the way people throw these two terms around when they mean two completely different things in regards to behavior. Does it sound cooler to talk about "aggressive" T's rather than "defensive" ones? It definitely does not help the hobby about for a casual browser wandering across it, they may come away with the idea that many species of T's are "out to get them"...as if that fear isn't ingrained in mainstream society enough as it is. I doubt this thread will change anything but I just felt like I had to say something, if it only changes the way a couple people post I'm happy with that...some is better than none (in this case lol) :)
 

DrAce

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Useful and helpful.

I love a fellow pedant!

They are subtle differences, however and given the international flavour of the forum, there is a good chance that many will not understand the distinction.
 

edesign

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Lorgakor, taht first link is the one I was looking for...I had "aggressive" and "defensive" as my search terms, I must have overlooked it :( thanks!

but mine has pretty bold and quoted definitions :D

as far as international linguistics go...put it this way, if the spider runs out of it's tank and chases you halfway across the room, runs up your leg and on to your neck, bites you, and then runs back to it's tank that's "aggressive". If you stick your hand or face in it's tank and it bites you...that's "defensive". very simple concept :)

as for Chip's post in that first link...I disagree it's our version of P.C., aggressive and defensive are two completely different words with very different meanings. That's like saying using fascism and capitalism interchangeably and calling it semantics...they're not the same thing although they both have some basis' that revolve around corporations/business.
 

TheDarkFinder

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It is nice to see someone reading. Now some really big words.

Fear-induced aggression: aggression associated with attempts to flee from a threat.

Irritable aggression: aggression induced by frustration and directed against an available target.

Territorial aggression: defense of a fixed area against intruders

Maternal aggression: a female's aggression to protect her offspring from a threat. Paternal aggression also exists.

Instrumental aggression: aggression directed towards obtaining some goal, considered to be a learned response to a situation.

Predatory aggression: attack on prey by a predator.

Now I have see most tarantulas use all of these methods.

I know you want to be right so badly that you are welling to drag up this topic every 6 months. You plug your ears and scream at the top of your lungs to make your way the right way. It is ok. I understand.


Ok I had enough. I will quit.

thedarkfinder.
 

Venom

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Aggressive: Germany, 1939. = unprovoked, for the purposes of gaining something from the object of your attack. Predators are aggressive towards their food--they attack to take their prey's body for food.

Defensive: "Get near me and I'll bite you." Provoked, for the purposes of preventing harm FROM an attacker or potential attacker. Rattlesnakes are defensive, they inflict or threaten harm to keep harm from coming to themselves.

Aggressively defensive: Phoneutria, Pterinochilus - Ready and willing in the extreme to take actions for the preventing of harm to itself. Characterized by preemptive attacks, and rapid, seemingly unnecessary resort to force. Call them paranoid, but Phoneutria, Pterinochilus, and genera like these are simply being defensive. It's just that they take EVERYTHING as a threat, and respond vigorously.


The bottom line: Animals that attack ( whether readily or reluctantly ) because they feel threatened, are DEFENSIVE, NOT AGGRESSIVE. This is the type of behaviour that describes ALL T's reactions toward humans except in the occasional accident that it perceives a human finger as food. Once the T realizes a human is not a potential meal, it's behaviour towards the human changes, to perceive the human as a threat, and thus takes appropriate anti-threat measures.

The term is defensive, but there are degrees of defensiveness, i.e., slightly defensive, somewhat defensive, moderately defensive, highly defensive, etc.


As a side note, perhaps we need to modify how we describe T defense behaviour--instead of difficult-to-pin-down adjectives, maybe we should describe a T's defensiveness on a 1 -5 or 1- 10 scale? That way we could give a MUCH more helpful and specific answer for questions like " how "mean" is it?" We could just say: "It's a level-3 defensive spider, which means......yada yada"--however we would describe that level. What do you think?
 
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Acal57

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OK so when my A Genic attacks the glass as I walk by, is that agressive behaviour? I would think so...
 

DrAce

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Aggressively defending "Aggressive"

Actually, having thought about this over lunch, I think that there may be warrant to use "aggressive" in the ways people have been.

"Aggressive" can also mean to do something intensely, or to focus all your efforts to something. I'm sure I can be aggressively defensive.
 

cheetah13mo

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OK so when my A Genic attacks the glass as I walk by, is that agressive behaviour? I would think so...
I would call that aggressive but the majority of actions by the majority of T's in ones collection would fall under the defensive. Good thread Edesign.
 

DrAce

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*sigh*

No, it is defense.
*sigh*

But did it do it aggressively? I would have thought lunging and diverting all your attention to defending your ground like that was quite an aggressive use of your defences.
 

Texas Blonde

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*sigh*

But did it do it aggressively? I would have thought lunging and diverting all your attention to defending your ground like that was quite an aggressive use of your defences.

I dont think anyone is debating over the adjectives applied to the words defensive and aggressive. They are debating over the use of the words themselves. You can apply many adjectives to both defensive and aggressive, but they dont change the meaning of the word itself.
 

Texas Blonde

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I think it's a point of veiw issue. From the T, I can see it being defensive but from my point of veiw, being unprovoked, I would look at it as aggressive.
But it is only unprovoked from your point of view. The tarantula may feel some need to be extra defensive of his/her home. If a huge animal, many times larger than myself was walking by my home, I might get a little scared too. The tarantulas behavior should only be judged by its standards, not ours. And it should be looked at objectively, without very fallible human emotion attached.
 

Cirith Ungol

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OK so when my A Genic attacks the glass as I walk by, is that agressive behaviour? I would think so...
Hadn't you walked by it wouldn't have done that. It wouldn't have tried to come out of the tank to bite you while you were far away. It sensed someone/something near/in range of it's territory and reacted upon that.
 

DrAce

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More Defensive Aggression...

I dont think anyone is debating over the adjectives applied to the words defensive and aggressive. They are debating over the use of the words themselves. You can apply many adjectives to both defensive and aggressive, but they dont change the meaning of the word itself.

True, but I am suggesting that the whole debate (after initially agreeing with the sentiment) is actually null. I was trying to use word-play to achieve it.

'Aggressive' can also mean that something is done intensely - all attention is focussed on that task. I've seen Tarantulas behaving in this way: I've seen them 'defensive' in a very 'aggressive' way.

When people describe their tarantulas as "aggressive", sure they mean 'angry - easily irritable - quick to bite', but they are not strictly wrong in describing these behaviors as "aggressive".

FYI, I've read the Oxford entry on "aggressive" but will cut-and-paste the Dictionary.com entry here, because my laziness hasn't out-weighed my aggression on this topic:

ag·gres·sive
Pronunciation[uh-gres-iv]
–adjective
1. characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing: aggressive acts against a neighboring country.
2. making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive: an aggressive basketball player.
3. vigorously energetic, esp. in the use of initiative and forcefulness: an aggressive salesperson.
4. boldly assertive and forward; pushy: an aggressive driver.
5. emphasizing maximum growth and capital gains over quality, security, and income: an aggressive mutual fund.
6. Medicine/Medical. a. (of a disease or tumor) spreading rapidly or highly invasive; difficult or impossible to treat successfully.
b. pertaining to a risky surgery or treatment, or to a medication that has grave side effects: aggressive chemotherapy.


Those who describe their Tarantulas are trying to use '1', but they are actually describing '2', '3', and '4'. I completely agree that 'DEFENSIVE' is what they should use. But 'Aggressive' is not as wrong as initially suggested.

I, too, can be a pedant. ;)
 
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Venom

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Did anybody even read my post!? I already discussed "aggressively defensive" :


Aggressively defensive: Phoneutria, Pterinochilus - Ready and willing in the extreme to take actions for the preventing of harm to itself. Characterized by preemptive attacks, and rapid, seemingly unnecessary resort to force. Call them paranoid, but Phoneutria, Pterinochilus, and genera like these are simply being defensive. It's just that they take EVERYTHING as a threat, and respond vigorously.
And explained that:


The bottom line: Animals that attack ( whether readily or reluctantly ) because they feel threatened, are DEFENSIVE, NOT AGGRESSIVE. This is the type of behaviour that describes ALL T's reactions toward humans except in the occasional accident that it perceives a human finger as food. Once the T realizes a human is not a potential meal, it's behaviour towards the human changes, to perceive the human as a threat, and thus takes appropriate anti-threat measures.

The term is defensive, but there are degrees of defensiveness, i.e., slightly defensive, somewhat defensive, moderately defensive, highly defensive, etc.
 

monitormonster

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It's good to clear up the miscommunication between the two. I would have to agree, defensive is a better word to describe angry T behavior.
 

edesign

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The bottom line: Animals that attack ( whether readily or reluctantly ) because they feel threatened, are DEFENSIVE, NOT AGGRESSIVE. This is the type of behaviour that describes ALL T's reactions toward humans except in the occasional accident that it perceives a human finger as food. Once the T realizes a human is not a potential meal, it's behaviour towards the human changes, to perceive the human as a threat, and thus takes appropriate anti-threat measures.
thank you Venom...that is exactly what I was trying to point out, except TDF just can't seem to understand this concept (TDF...if you want to be a smartass take it to my PM box please...especially if you're going to make a fool out of yourself. I put the words in bold to make them more easily referenced, but apparently you are obsessed with me. Have you ever seen an outline before? Ever notice how they break things down with larger font to smaller font on occasion? Yeah, think about that for a bit and then when you're done come back and let's have a nice discussion, thanks! :))

The term is defensive, but there are degrees of defensiveness, i.e., slightly defensive, somewhat defensive, moderately defensive, highly defensive, etc.


As a side note, perhaps we need to modify how we describe T defense behaviour--instead of difficult-to-pin-down adjectives, maybe we should describe a T's defensiveness on a 1 -5 or 1- 10 scale? That way we could give a MUCH more helpful and specific answer for questions like " how "mean" is it?" We could just say: "It's a level-3 defensive spider, which means......yada yada"--however we would describe that level. What do you think?
I like this idea :) While it won't apply to every specimen within a species, we all know certain species are well-known for certain attitude levels.
 

DrAce

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That's a little defensive...

Venom,

I did read your post, and had a good think about it.

I was replying to the comment made to me directly...

I think that we're both arguing essentially the same point, but from two different angles.
 
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