Behaviour that has the appearance of being directed towards a goal. Not all apparently purposive behaviour is truly goal-directed in the sense of being intentional. True intention behaviour, that is carried out by reference to an explicit representation of a goal, is difficult to identify in animals. Deceitful behaviour is sometimes taken as evidence of true intention, but the issue remains controversial.
A second meaning of purposive behaviour is behaviour that is designed for a purpose. The normal biological terminology here is that behaviour may be designed (by natural selection) to serve some function. Thus the function (purpose) of a wing is to propel an animal through the air, meaning that the wing is designed to propel an animal through the air.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.