Naturalists and philosophers observed animal behavior for centuries. But understanding of this behavior was developed in last century. There are different approaches to study behavior.

  1. Comparative psychology: Comparative psychologists study genetic, neural

and hormonal bases of animal behavior. The psychologists performed experiments in laboratory and field. These experiments help to understand animal learning and development of behavior. The psychologists studies how animals receive information. They also study the processes and nature of the behavior patterns. This pattern consists of the animals’ responses to their surroundings.

  1. Ethology: The study of animal behavior on the basis of evolution and the natural environment is called ethology. This approach was used by Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and Karl von Frisch. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973. Ethologists observe the behavior of different animals in their natural environments. They study the behavior of closely related species. It gives information about the evolution and origin of certain behavior patterns. Ethologists are not interested inlearning. They are interested in animal communication, mating. behavior and social behavior.

    3. Behavioral ecology: It emphasizes the ecological aspects df animal behavior. The behavioral ecologists studies:

    • Predator-prey interactions
    • Foraging strategies
    • • Reproductive strategies
    • Habitat selection
    • Intraspecific and interspecific competition
    • Social behavior

    4. Sociobiology: The study of the evolution of social behavior is called sociobicilogy. It combines many aspects of ethology and behavioral ecology. Sociobiologists emphasize the importance of natural selection.


    Behavioral scientists want to know why animals do different things. There can be two causes of doing different things:



    1. Proximate causes: More immediate ecological and physiological causes of .behavior are called proximate causes. It includes eating to satisfy hunger
    2. Ultimate causes: It is another level. of causation in behavior. It occurs on the evolutionary time scale. For example, a display attracts a mate. It also increases the chance of passing genetic information to the next generation.

    ANTHROPOMORPHISM (Gr. anthropos, man _ morphe, form)

    The application of human characteristics to anything not human is called anthropomorphism. The human feelings cannot be assigned to animal behavior. These animals (especially invertebrate) do. not give accurate human behavior. For example an earthworm is placed on a fishhook. It can be explained in two ways:.

    (a)   Anthropomorphic explanation: We think that the fish . can hurt the

    earthworm. Or it can cause pain in it? Hurt and pain are human feelings. These are present in our conscious. Thus application of hurt and pain to

    earthworm is anthropomorphism.          

    (b)   Physiological explanation: We can explain this problem in another way. It reduces the anthropomorphic interpretation. We explain it that when the earthworm is placed on the hook, certain receptors are stimulated. These receptors generate nerve impulses. This impulse travel through neuron and causes reflex action. The impulses stimulate muscles. The contraction of muscles allows the worm to escape from the hook. This explanation gives the actual mechanism of reflex. It does not give the feelings of earthworm.

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