Konrad Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, animal psychologist, and ornithologist, one of the founders of modern ethology, and Nobel Prize winner. As such, he has been a highly influential figure both within academic circles and, through his popular writings, with the general public.
Lorenz's most enduring contributions include his work on instincts, particularly imprinting; his influence on a younger generation of ethologists; his methods of carrying out research with animals without cruelty; and his popular works, which were enormously important in bringing ethology to the attention of the general public.
His work led him to postulate a now somewhat outdated theoretical explanation of animal and human behavior. Yet certain features ring true. He recognized the significance of feedback mechanisms in driving and modifying behavior. Lorenz saw humankind as different from animals, in that we are able to overcome our instincts, and free ourselves from the constraints of the environment and feedback mechanisms, free to act for both good or ill. He recognized that such freedom requires responsibility to tame it, if we are not to destroy ourselves and our world. Thus, his most significant contribution may be the warning that the most essential issues humanity faces today are moral and ethical ones.