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Comparative Psychology

  1. Jacob N. Norris,
  2. Mauricio R. Papini

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0208

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Norris, J. N. and Papini, M. R. 2010. Comparative Psychology. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Texas Christian University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Comparative psychology involves the study of the evolution and development of behavior. Comparative psychology is a branch of science that lies in the intersection between psychology and biology. Thus, it is not surprising that comparative psychologists recognize as part of their foundational tradition the works and ideas of a diverse group of scientists, including Charles Darwin (founder of modern evolutionary theory), Ivan P. Pavlov (discoverer of conditioning), John B. Watson (founder of behaviorism and a pioneer of field experiments), and Edward L. Thorndike (proponent of one of the first theories of behavior based on experimental research), among many others (Boakes, 1984). Comparative psychologists are interested in providing answers to questions such as:

  • What is the evolutionary origin of behavioral patterns observed in animals?

  • Does behavior contribute to individual reproductive success?

  • What external and internal factors determine animal behavior?

  • What factors regulate the development of behavior?