Comparative Psychology

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Comparative Psychology


a branch of psychology that studies both the common traits and the differences in the origin and development of human behavior and animal behavior.

The development of comparative psychology is associated with the works of J. B. Lamarck and particularly those of C. Darwin and, in Russia, of V. A. Vagner. Vagner understood the science in the widest sense, as a discipline bridging animal and human psychology. The ontogenetic or phylogenetic similarity between elements of animal and human behavior indicates common origins of their psychological evolution. The qualitative differences indicate the importance of sociohistorical factors, particularly work, social activity, and articulate speech, in the development of the human psyche and consciousness.

Comparative psychology studies forms of mental activity that are hereditary and innate (instinctive) and forms that are acquired, which are related to learning and intellectual activity. The study of primate behavior and the mode of life and man’s animal ancestors is of great importance in comparative psychology because it helps to establish the biological foundations of anthro-pogenesis. Research on the mode of life and material culture of prehistoric man (paleopsychology) has led to an understanding of his psyche as the initial form of the psyche of modern man.

The development of comparative psychology based on dialectical materialism has taken place through a struggle against idealist concepts, such as psychophysiological parallelism, and vulgar-materialist concepts, such as mechanicism and orthogenesis, which are expressed in attempts to biologize human behavior or anthropomorphize animal behavior. Comparative psychological data are of great significance in the resolution of many problems in psychology, philosophy, anthropology, medicine, and education (the genetic basis for the development of the child psyche).


Darwin, C. “Proiskhozhdenie cheloveka i polovoi otbor: Vyrazhenie emotsii u cheloveka i zhivotnykh.” Soch., vol. 5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1953.
Vagner, V. A. Biologicheskie osnovaniia sravnitel’noi psikhologii, vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg-Moscow, 1910–13.
Voitonis, N. Iu. Predistoriia intellekta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Ladygina-Kots, N. N. Predposylki chelovecheskogo myshleniia. Moscow, 1965.


References in periodicals archive ?
Comparative psychologist Todd Freeberg of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, who has studied chickadee communication, says that Templeton's work is "really starting to chip away at understanding the richness of the information" that chickadees can communicate.
Conventional wisdom would say that [people] train dogs to do this," explains Michael Tomasello, a comparative psychologist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany.
According to a report by BBC News, the study was carried out by Matthew Anderson and Sarah Williams, who are comparative psychologists based at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, US.

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