Edward A. Wasserman and Thomas R. Zentall

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition

Second edition

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392661
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology


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Uncovering similarities and differences between human and animal behavior is a key concern of the field of comparative psychology. The subfield of comparative psychology that is especially concerned with cognitive processes in human and nonhuman behavior is called comparative cognition. We deem comparative cognition to fall squarely within the realm of natural science and to be of vital importance to behavioral psychology and evolutionary biology. Comparative cognition is generally concerned with mechanistic matters, physiological interpretation, and experimental investigation; a rival school, cognitive ethology, is more inclined to philosophical matters, mentalistic interpretation, and naturalistic observation. Beyond this scholarly rivalry, we suggest that the experimental study of animal intelligence should greatly advance our understanding of behavioral adaptation and its evolution in the animal kingdom.

Keywords: comparative cognition; cognitive ethology; natural science; behaviorism; mentalism

Article.  5917 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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