Animal Behavior (Comparative Psychology)

Comparative psychologists (also called Animal Behaviorists—as I will call this field) study the behavior of animal species and use this research to understand many aspects of human behavior. Animal behavior is also studied for its own sake, both in the laboratory and in the natural environment. Laboratory research has included work on learning, language acquisition, perception, attachment, and care. Research in the natural environment has extended to the understanding of evolved patterns of behavior apparent altruism, aggression, and aspects of courtship, mating and parental care.

These studies enable us to understand the ways in which we can protect species and encourage them to survive in an environment that suffers from over-exploitation and damage by humans. They promote a fuller understanding of the complex ways in which animals form an essential part of a self-sustaining environment. Some areas of human behavior have previously been difficult to explain, such as parent-offspring conflict or altruistic behavior. Many of the fascinating insights into human behavior owe their existence to investigations and observations of non-human animals. In studying evolutionary explanations of behavior, students may better understand many areas of human behavior that might otherwise have seemed inexplicable.

The human condition has also been improved by the application of comparative psychological research in various fields, including education, caring for the disabled, understanding language and communication, and medical treatment involving perception and other very important physiological mechanisms.

Learning Outcomes (and you know what that means...)