comparative psychology


Summary: The branch of psychology concerned with similarities or differences in the behavior of different animal species or of different races or peoples.

Top Publications

  1. Dewsbury D. The comparative psychology of monogamy. Nebr Symp Motiv. 1987;35:1-50 pubmed
    ..They are thus fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of any species. Although the goal of comparative psychology lies in generating principles of generality concerning behavior rather than in direct extrapolation to ..
  2. Greenberg G, Partridge T, Weiss E, Pisula W. Comparative psychology, a new perspective for the 21st century: up the spiral staircase. Dev Psychobiol. 2004;44:1-15; discussion 31-6 pubmed
    This article responds to the continuing obituaries for Comparative Psychology. We understand the field to be a general psychology, a way of understanding the origins of all behavior of all species...
  3. Smith J, Shields W, Washburn D. The comparative psychology of uncertainty monitoring and metacognition. Behav Brain Sci. 2003;26:317-39; discussion 340-73 pubmed
    ..Thus, the comparative study of metacognition potentially grounds the systematic study of animal consciousness. ..
  4. Anderson J, Lebiere C. The Newell Test for a theory of cognition. Behav Brain Sci. 2003;26:587-601; discussion 601-48 pubmed
    ..Its weaknesses largely derive from its failure, as yet, to adequately engage in intensive analyses of issues related to certain criteria on Newell's list. ..
  5. Kressley Mba R. On the failed institutionalization of German comparative psychology prior to 1940. Hist Psychol. 2006;9:55-74 pubmed different fields of animal behavior research-and the fact that interesting work in the field continues, comparative psychology has no official status within German psychology...
  6. Ward R, Ward R. Selective attention and control of action: comparative psychology of an artificial, evolved agent and people. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2008;34:1165-82 pubmed publisher
    ..The presence of reactive inhibition in the simple agent and in people suggests that it is an important mechanism for selective processing. ..
  7. Washburn D, Rumbaugh D. Testing primates with joystick-based automated apparatus: lessons from the Language Research Center's Computerized Test System. Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 1992;24:157-64 pubmed
    ..The results of multiple parametric studies are reviewed, and reliability data are presented to reveal the surprises and pitfalls associated with video-task testing of performance. ..
  8. Rumbaugh D, Savage Rumbaugh E, Washburn D. Toward a new outlook on primate learning and behavior: complex learning and emergent processes in comparative perspective. Jpn Psychol Res. 1996;38:113-25 pubmed
    ..It is time to celebrate the progress of our field, to anticipate its significance, and to emphasize conservation of primates in their natural habitats. ..
  9. Redford J. Evidence of metacognitive control by humans and monkeys in a perceptual categorization task. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2010;36:248-54 pubmed publisher
    ..The study found that humans and monkeys increased their study for high-difficulty categories, suggesting that both share the capacity to exert metacognitive control. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved). ..

More Information


  1. Mason W. Social development: a psychobiological perspective. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2008;42:389-96 pubmed publisher
  2. Lickliter R. The aims and accomplishments of comparative psychology. Dev Psychobiol. 2004;44:26-30 pubmed
    Greenberg, Partridge, Weiss, and Pisula propose a new perspective of comparative psychology, based in large part on an anagenetic and dynamic systems approach to the development and evolution of behavior...
  3. Washburn D. External audio for IBM-compatible computers. Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 1992;24:80-1 pubmed
    ..Modification of an IBM-compatible computer for use of an external speaker is relatively easy but not intuitive. This modification is briefly described. ..
  4. Washburn D, Rumbaugh D. Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) complex learning skills reassessed. Int J Primatol. 1991;12:377-88 pubmed
    ..We argue that the LRC-CTS enhances learning by nonhuman primate subjects, obviating those factors, reported in the literature from experiments in which manual or other automated systems were employed, that compromise learning. ..
  5. Suzuki A. [Review of the gender research in cross-cultural psychology since 1990: conceptual definitions and methodology]. Shinrigaku Kenkyu. 2004;75:160-72 pubmed
  6. Johnston T. Three pioneers of comparative psychology in America, 1843-1890: Lewis H. Morgan, John Bascom, and Joseph LeConte. Hist Psychol. 2003;6:14-51 pubmed
    Scientific comparative psychology in America dates from the mid-1890s, but there is a body of earlier literature on the topic, written during a period of theistic debates over Darwinian evolution. The anthropologist Lewis H...
  7. Burghardt G. Darwin's legacy to comparative psychology and ethology. Am Psychol. 2009;64:102-10 pubmed publisher
    ..Several newer emphases that Darwin anticipated are briefly discussed. Darwin, while not always correct by current standards, crucially aided the process of firmly embedding psychological phenomena in a naturalistic scientific ethos. ..
  8. Shibasaki M, Kawai N. Rapid detection of snakes by Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata): an evolutionarily predisposed visual system. J Comp Psychol. 2009;123:131-5 pubmed publisher
    ..This was also the case when grayscale pictures were used (Experiment 2). These results provide the first evidence of enhanced visual detection of evolutionarily relevant threat stimuli in nonhuman primates...
  9. Bacher L, Romm R, Spanier H, Tellefsen L, Yip S, Smotherman W. Developmental psychobiology: a look back on 30 years. Dev Psychobiol. 2000;37:1-4 pubmed
  10. Gosling S. From mice to men: what can we learn about personality from animal research?. Psychol Bull. 2001;127:45-86 pubmed
    ..It is concluded that animal studies provide unique opportunities to examine biological, genetic, and environmental bases of personality and to study personality change, personality-health links, and personality perception. ..
  11. Denenberg V. Comparative psychology is still alive but may be losing relevance. Dev Psychobiol. 2004;44:21-5 pubmed
    Greenberg et al., in their perspective on the current state and fate of comparative psychology, present convincing data that the field is viable and that comparative psychologists are making important contributions to the research ..
  12. van der Horst F, Leroy H, van der Veer R. "When strangers meet": John Bowlby and Harry Harlow on attachment behavior. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2008;42:370-88 pubmed publisher
  13. Sebanz N, Knoblich G, Humphreys G. Cognitive Ethology for humans: inconvenient truth or attentional deficit?. Br J Psychol. 2008;99:347-50; discussion 355-9 pubmed publisher
  14. Naess S, Eriksen J, Midthjell K, Tambs K. Diabetes mellitus and psychological well-being. Change between 1984-1986 and 1995-1997. Results of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study. J Diabetes Complications. 2004;18:141-7 pubmed
    ..Other outcome variables - Calmness, Cheerfulness, and Life satisfaction - were only weakly related to diabetes, and the relationship did not change significantly from HUNT 1 to HUNT 2. ..
  15. Biehn K. "Monkeys, babies, idiots" and "primitives": nature-nurture debates and philanthropic foundation support for American anthropology in the 1920s and 1930s. J Hist Behav Sci. 2009;45:219-35 pubmed publisher
    ..Ironically, it was the need to negotiate with foundations about the purpose of their research that helped cultural anthropologists to articulate their unique, and thus intrinsically valuable, approach to nature-nurture debates. ..
  16. Hauser M, Kralik J, Botto Mahan C, Garrett M, Oser J. Self-recognition in primates: phylogeny and the salience of species-typical features. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995;92:10811-14 pubmed
    ..g., face versus hair). Moreover, and in contrast to previous claims, we suggest that the mirror test may not be sufficient for assessing the concept of self or mental state attribution in nonlinguistic organisms. ..
  17. Washburn D. Stroop-like effects for monkeys and humans: processing speed or strength of association?. Psychol Sci. 1994;5:375-9 pubmed
    ..These findings were consistent with parallel-processing models of Stroop-like interference proposed elsewhere, but not with processing-speed accounts posited frequently to explain the effect. ..
  18. Dewsbury D. Issues in comparative psychology at the dawn of the 20th century. Am Psychol. 2000;55:750-3 pubmed
    b>Comparative psychology emerged as part of the "new psychology" that took hold in the United States around 1900...
  19. Leavens D, Bard K, Hopkins W. BIZARRE chimpanzees do not represent "the chimpanzee". Behav Brain Sci. 2010;33:100-1 pubmed publisher
    ..Here we argue that rearing history is every bit as important for understanding cognition in other species as it is in humans. ..
  20. Cacchione T, Call J, Zingg R. Gravity and solidity in four great ape species (Gorilla gorilla, Pongo pygmaeus, Pan troglodytes, Pan paniscus): vertical and horizontal variations of the table task. J Comp Psychol. 2009;123:168-80 pubmed publisher
    ..Results indicate that great apes, unlike monkeys, show no reliable gravity bias, that ape species slightly differ in terms of their performance, and that the errors made are best explained by a gravity account. ..
  21. de Waal F. Silent invasion: Imanishi's primatology and cultural bias in science. Anim Cogn. 2003;6:293-9 pubmed
  22. Smith J. The study of animal metacognition. Trends Cogn Sci. 2009;13:389-96 pubmed publisher
    ..This research area opens a new window on reflective mind in animals, illuminating its phylogenetic emergence and allowing researchers to trace the antecedents of human consciousness. ..
  23. Horner V, de Waal F. Controlled studies of chimpanzee cultural transmission. Prog Brain Res. 2009;178:3-15 pubmed publisher
  24. Heidrich S. Mechanisms related to psychological well-being in older women with chronic illnesses: age and disease comparisons. Res Nurs Health. 1996;19:225-35 pubmed
    ..For both groups, women who made more positive social comparisons and who had more extensive social networks had higher levels of psychological well-being, regardless of physical health problems. ..
  25. Blumberg M, Sokoloff G. Thermoregulatory competence and behavioral expression in the young of altricial species--revisited. Dev Psychobiol. 1998;33:107-23 pubmed
    ..Given the prominent use of altricial species for the study of infant behavior, increased understanding of the infant's physiological responses to cold and the effect of thermal factors on behavior is warranted. ..
  26. Wahlsten D. Single-gene influences on brain and behavior. Annu Rev Psychol. 1999;50:599-624 pubmed
    ..The era of examining single-gene effects from a reductionistic perspective is waning, and research with interacting arrays of genes in various environmental contexts is demonstrating a need for systems-oriented theory. ..
  27. Dewsbury D. Comparative cognition in the 1930s. Psychon Bull Rev. 2000;7:267-83 pubmed
    ..Tolman as sources of this interest. The alleged hegemony of strict behavioristic psychology, interpreted as excluding research on animal cognition, requires revision. Some possible reasons for this neglect are suggested. ..
  28. Pahl S, Eiser J, White M. Boundaries of self-positivity: the effect of comparison focus in self-friend comparisons. J Soc Psychol. 2009;149:413-24 pubmed publisher
    ..The present research is the first to demonstrate the focus effect in comparisons of self and specific individuals. ..
  29. Leroy H. Harry Harlow: from the other side of the desk. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2008;42:348-53 pubmed publisher
    ..On the basis of her personal reminiscences the author provides a picture of Harry Harlow's personality. Harlow emerges as an unassuming and witty person. ..
  30. Harlow H. The monkey as a psychological subject. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2008;42:336-47 pubmed publisher
  31. Vieyra Reyes P, Mineur Y, Picciotto M, Tunez I, Vidaltamayo R, Drucker Colín R. Antidepressant-like effects of nicotine and transcranial magnetic stimulation in the olfactory bulbectomy rat model of depression. Brain Res Bull. 2008;77:13-8 pubmed publisher
    ..In conclusion, our results support the idea that there are possible innate differences for depression susceptibility and that nicotine and TMS may be useful in the treatment of this syndrome. ..
  32. Capaldi E, Robinson G, Fahrback S. Neuroethology of spatial learning: the birds and the bees. Annu Rev Psychol. 1999;50:651-82 pubmed
    ..Volume changes in these brain regions during the life of an individual may reflect both developmental and phylogenetic trends. These patterns may reveal important structure-function relationships in the nervous system. ..
  33. Iwaniuk A, Lefebvre L, Wylie D. The comparative approach and brain-behaviour relationships: a tool for understanding tool use. Can J Exp Psychol. 2009;63:150-9 pubmed publisher
    The comparative method is widely used to understand brain-behaviour relationships in comparative psychology. Such studies have demonstrated functional relationships between the brain and behaviour as well as how the brain and behaviour ..
  34. Kelly S, Ratner P. Compared to whom? An investigation of the relative health comparisons of well people. Can J Public Health. 2005;96:462-6 pubmed
    ..The nature of the comparisons are complex and the responses indicate that they are affected by age, gender, and life experience. ..
  35. Moore C. Can behavioral evolution be measured on a staircase? A commentary. Dev Psychobiol. 2004;44:16-20 pubmed
    ..advocate is a progressive direction for the field, but their proposal to separate comparative psychology from its roots in evolutionary biology seems regressive...
  36. Kressley Mba R, Jaeger S. Rediscovering a missing link: The sensory physiologist and comparative psychologist Mathilde Hertz (1891-1975). Hist Psychol. 2003;6:379-96 pubmed
    ..Hertz's personal and professional fates are in many ways representative of the field of comparative psychology in Germany prior to the middle of the 20th century, both of its history and its demise.
  37. Boesch C. Away from ethnocentrism and anthropocentrism: towards a scientific understanding of "what makes us human". Behav Brain Sci. 2010;33:86-7 pubmed publisher
    The quest to understand "what makes us human" has been heading towards an impasse, when comparative psychology compares primarily individuals that are not representative of their species...
  38. Richard s M, Solanas A, Ledesma R, Introzzi I, López Ramón M. [Classification statistical techniques: an applied and comparative study]. Psicothema. 2008;20:863-71 pubmed
  39. Galef B. Approaches to the study of traditional behaviors of free-living animals. Learn Behav. 2004;32:53-61 pubmed
    ..Armchair analyses of field data can produce interesting hypotheses but cannot test them. Field experiments to determine how behaviors of interest develop in population members provide a promising way forward. ..
  40. Mehta P, Gosling S. Bridging human and animal research: a comparative approach to studies of personality and health. Brain Behav Immun. 2008;22:651-61 pubmed publisher
    ..We conclude that a comparative approach can provide unique insights into personality psychology, especially into research on personality, immunity, and health. ..
  41. Kingstone A, Smilek D, Eastwood J. Cognitive Ethology: a new approach for studying human cognition. Br J Psychol. 2008;99:317-40 pubmed
    ..We discuss how Cognitive Ethology can complement lab-based investigations, and we show how its levels of description and explanation are distinct from what is typically employed in lab-based research. ..
  42. Shackelford T, Goetz A. Comparative evolutionary psychology of sperm competition. J Comp Psychol. 2006;120:139-46 pubmed
    ..The authors conclude by highlighting the heuristic value of a comparative evolutionary psychological approach in this field. ..
  43. Burghardt G. Editorial: Journal of Comparative Psychology. J Comp Psychol. 2006;120:77-8 pubmed
    ..The Journal of Comparative Psychology will continue to publish exciting, fascinating, assessable, controversial, and well-written reports on ..
  44. Ekman P. Emotions inside out. 130 Years after Darwin's "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal". Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003;1000:1-6 pubmed
  45. Wilson D. British female academics and comparative psychology: attempts to establish a research niche in the early 20th century. Hist Psychol. 2003;6:89-109 pubmed
    ..The academic circumstances and contributions of 3 British female pioneers in experimental comparative psychology are discussed.
  46. Johnston T. An early manuscript in the history of American comparative psychology: Lewis Henry Morgan's "Animal Psychology" (1857). Hist Psychol. 2002;5:323-55 pubmed
    ..culture, but he also wrote on animal psychology, beginning in 1843, some 50 years before the founding of comparative psychology as a scientific discipline...
  47. Lipp H, Pleskacheva M, Gossweiler H, Ricceri L, Smirnova A, Garin N, et al. A large outdoor radial maze for comparative studies in birds and mammals. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2001;25:83-99 pubmed
    ..Such comparability is essential for an analysis of underlying neurobiological mechanisms. ..
  48. Keller H. Attachment-past and present. But what about the future?. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2008;42:406-15 pubmed publisher
  49. Lickliter R. Theories of attachment: the long and winding road to an integrative developmental science. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2008;42:397-405 pubmed publisher
    ..Exploring the specific prenatal and postnatal features of the mother-infant interaction system is providing a new appreciation of the complexity of the origins and maintenance of early attachment and its long-term consequences. ..
  50. Smith J, Redford J, Haas S, Coutinho M, Couchman J. The comparative psychology of same-different judgments by humans (Homo sapiens) and monkeys (Macaca mulatta). J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2008;34:361-74 pubmed publisher
    ..In particular, humans may especially apply qualitative, rule-based frameworks to cognitive tasks like Same-Different. ..
  51. Campbell C, Hodos W. The Scala naturae revisited: evolutionary scales and anagenesis in comparative psychology. J Comp Psychol. 1991;105:211-21 pubmed
    ..Advocates of anagenetic analysis in comparative psychology cite the writings of biologists Bernard Rensch, Julian Huxley, George Gaylord Simpson, and Stephen Jay ..
  52. Washburn D, Hopkins W, Rumbaugh D. Automation of learning-set testing: the video-task paradigm. Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 1989;21:281-4 pubmed
    ..Additionally, the efficient learning and rich data that were characteristic of this study suggest several advantages of the present testing paradigm over traditional WGTA testing. ..
  53. Viney W, King D, Berndt J. Animal research in psychology: declining or thriving?. J Comp Psychol. 1990;104:322-5 pubmed
    ..g., cats, dogs, and rabbits). Possible reasons for changing trends in studies on selected species include: increased costs, the cognitive emphasis in psychology, and arguably, animal rights activism. ..