Peculiar to Konrad Lorenz’s view of instinctive behavior is his strong innate-learned dichotomy. He claimed that there are neither ontogenetic nor phylogenetic transitions between instinctive and experience-based behavior components, thus contradicting all former accounts of instinct. The present study discusses how Lorenz came to hold this controversial position by examining the history of Lorenz’s early theoretical development in the crucial period from 1931 to 1937, taking relevant influences into account. Lorenz’s intellectual development is viewed as being guided by four theoretical and practical commitments as to how to study and explain behavior. These four factors, which were part of the general approach of Lorenz but not of other animal psychologists, were crucial in bringing about his specific position on instinctive behavior.