10/17/13 Garrett Vail
Example paper The Study of Animal Behavior through Comparative Psychology
I have found that the use of comparative psychology to study animal behavior has been a most crucial part in the development of todays’ society in humans alike. Comparative psychology is a branch of psychology popularly focused on comparing animal behavior to human behavior. Essentially comparative psychology focuses on animal psychology and the implications that science may have on our understanding of human psychology. Comparative psychology, which involves the study of mental processes and behavior in other animals, is also known as ethology or behavioral biology. Comparative researchers have a wide variety of jobs from studying animals in cages and controlled environments to traveling to distant places in far off countries to study animals in their natural environments.
Many of the jobs people prefer tend to include working in laboratories, zoos or aquariums. The psychologists study animals and their behaviors in the wild to compare and contrast their findings. Most times comparative researchers spend their time teaching others about what they have either observed or learned from others experienced in the field of study. The study of animal behavior is enormously diverse, largely because behavior is focused to so many aspects of an animal's biology.
Virtually any kind of behavior performed by an animal may be the subject of study. Some questions that have attracted considerable interest include those about how animals communicate, how they choose mates, find food and shelter, and how they adapt to the constant change of the environment around them. Studies of animal behavior are increasingly important to society because they are crucial for understanding how to preserve species in the face of the continuing negative impact of human activities on the world and its atmosphere. For those who would like to study animal behavior, education is absolutely necessary and will require either a doctorate or masters degree under comparative psychology.
Comparative psychologists have found that animals use a variety of sensory channels, or signal modalities, for communication. Animal communication is classically defined as occurring when “...the action of or cue given by one organism [the sender] is perceived by and thus alters the probability pattern of behavior in another organism [the receiver] in a fashion adaptive to either one both of the participants” (Wilson 1975). For an example of animals communicating, take birds as a primary. The avian variety uses many types of communication, whether it be by performing dances to attract mates, or using their voices to sing to one another as a form of communicating. Just based on the previous two examples we find similarities in which humans communicate and interact with one another. Attempting to interpret how an animal feels and how it communicates may all be understood given an allotted time to study the species.
Let’s say you see a dog and you walk up to it; the dog then proceeds to emit a growl and you see the fur stand on its back and it lowers its tail to the ground. Just by the visual and vocal signs emitted from the dog you can clearly tell that the animal doesn’t want you anywhere near it. The animal is showing clear hostility towards you, however through the study in dog’s behavior we have been able to understand their body language in ways to show that we don’t pose a threat. For example, if you get low to the ground and tilt your head to the right the dog will understand that you are not hostile, and if you keep your distance and let them come to you rather than run over, they may become more trusting and relax. Through comparative psychology we can find efficient ways to communicate with animals without having complete knowledge of their language.
Take a moment and think of how humans get food and shelter… we either live off the land and