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What Is Comparative Psychology?

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Question: What Is Comparative Psychology?

Comparative psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the study of animal behavior. Modern research on animal behavior began with the work of Charles Darwin and Georges Romanes and has continued to grow into a multidisciplinary subject. Today, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, ecologists, geneticists and many others contribute to the study of animal behavior.

Comparative psychology often utilizes the comparative method to study animal behavior. The comparative method involves comparing the similarities and differences among species to gain and understanding of evolutionary relationships. The comparative method can also be used to compare modern species of animals to ancient species.

Major Topics in Comparative Psychology

  • Evolution
  • Heredity
  • Adaptation and learning
  • Mating and parenting behaviors
  • Primates

Who Should Study Comparative Psychology?

The study of animal behavior can lead to a deeper and broader understanding of human psychology. Research on animal behavior has led to numerous discoveries about human behavior, such as Ivan Pavlov's research on classical conditioning or Harry Harlow's work with rhesus monkeys. Students of biological sciences and social sciences can benefit from studying comparative psychology.

Important People in the History of Comparative Psychology

Suggested Reading
  • Can Insects Learn?
  • Can Animals Sense Natural Disasters?
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Kendra Cherry

Kendra Cherry
Psychology Guide

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