Non-Diagnostic information: information that is irrelevant to a behavior
Comparative psychologists emphasize studies of the genetic, neural, and hormonal bases of animal behavior.
explore how animals receive information,
and the processes and nature of the behavior patterns constituting
the animals responses to their surroundings, ethologica, depicting character
study the behavior of closely related species to consider the
evolution and origin of certain behavior patterns.
animal communication, mating behavior, and social behavior.
Behavioral ecology emphasizes the ecological aspects of animal
behavior. Predator-prey interactions, foraging strategies, reproductive
strategies, habitat selection, intraspecific and
interspecific competition, and social behavior are topics of interest
to behavioral ecologists.
Sociobiology is the study of the evolution of social behavior.
It combines many aspects of ethology and behavioral ecology. Sociobiologists
emphasize the importance of natural selection on individuals
living in groups.Behavioral scientists frequently ask, “Why do animals do what
they do?” More immediate ecological and physiological causes of
behavior, such as eating to satisfy hunger, are called proximate
causes. Another level of causation in behavior occurs on the evolutionary
time scale and is that of ultimate causes. For example, a display
not only attracts a mate, but also increases the likelihood of
passing genetic information to the next generation.
application of human characteristics to anything not human. In
observations of animals, assigning human feelings to animal behavior
is not likely to be accurate, especially with invertebrate
animals. Consider the example of placing an earthworm on a fishhook.
Does the fishhook hurt the earthworm, causing it to writhe
in pain? Both of the descriptive words, hurt and pain, are based on
human experience and conscious awareness. A better explanation
that reduces the anthropomorphic interpretation is that placing
the earthworm on the hook stimulates certain receptors which
generate nerve impulses that travel along reflex neural circuits.
The impulses stimulate muscles that allow the worm to wriggle in
an attempt to escape from the hook. This explanation more
closely describes what has been observed and does not attempt to
suggest what the earthworm “feels.”
Development of a normal behavior pattern requires the genes that
code for the formation of the structures and organs involved in the
behavior. For example, in vertebrates, normal locomotion movements
will not occur without proper development and growth of
the limbs. This process requires some interaction with the animal’s
environment because proper nourishment, water balance,
and other factors must be maintained for normal development.
Some behavior patterns appear only after a specific developmental
stage or time.
During maturation, performance of the behavior
pattern improves as parts of the nervous system and other structures
A classic example is tail movement in frog embryos that are near hatching. While still in the egg membranes, they start moving their tails as they would if they
were swimming, and movement coordination improves with time.
These improved movements are due to maturation, not practice
Interaction of inherited (i.e., instinctive) and learned components
shapes a number of behavior patterns.
For example, young socialists raised in isolation without the chance to catch live prey did not attack a white boy placed with them, unless the boy tried to escape.
At first, their attacks were not efficient, but after some experience,
they were seizing prey by the neck and rapidly killing them.
learning refines inherited components of this behavior.