Comparative Psychology: Evolution and Development of Behavior

Comparative Psychology: Evolution and Development of Behavior

Comparative Psychology: Evolution and Development of Behavior

Comparative Psychology: Evolution and Development of Behavior


Comparative Psychology (second edition) is a core textbook for senior undergraduate and graduate courses in Comparative Psychology, Animal Behavior, and Evolutionary Psychology. Its main goal is to introduce the student to evolutionary and developmental approaches to the study of animal behavior.

The structure of the book reflects the principal areas of importance to psychology students studying animal behavior: evolution, physiological issues, learning and cognition, development, and social evolution.

Throughout, this text includes many examples drawn from the study of human behavior, highlighting general and basic principles that apply broadly to the animal kingdom.


My goal for the first edition of this book, in 2002, was β€œto promote original research leading to new knowledge in its area of interest and to become a source of education for itself and for the larger science within which it is inserted.” In retrospect, this goal statement sounds too ambitious, so it may be useful to review what has happened in the intervening years. I have received many congratulatory comments on the quality, scope, and originality of the book. Some colleagues expressed satisfaction to see specific topics included in the original plan because they are rarely addressed in similar textbooks, including especially the chapter on development and evolution, and the chapter on primate evolution. Others found the first edition too extensive for the type of courses they teach and thus selected a few chapters as required readings. My own students have expressed all possible opinions. In their words, my book rated anywhere from one of the wonders of the universe to a confusing account of animal behavior. I was happy to see the first edition being translated into Japanese (published by Kitaohji-Shobou, Kyoto, in 2005) and Spanish (to be published by Manual Moderno, Bogota).

For this second edition, I am hoping to get closer to the original goals. I have also addressed many of the comments made by colleagues and students about the original version. This second edition is clearly in line with the previous version, but also includes several differences that I hope will make the entire book more appealing. Although many have tried to educate me about a variety of issues, I continue to be solely responsible for the errors, omissions, and problems of data interpretation that I am sure some readers will find in this second edition. In my defense, I will say only that I have tried hard to write a better version of this book.

Many have contributed to the task of writing a comprehensive account of comparative psychology. Over the years, I have benefited more than anybody could ever imagine from discussions and challenges posed to me by my two mentors, Jeff Bitterman and Bruce Overmier. To them . . .

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