The Evolution of Comparative Psychology

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NewSouth, Incorporated, Feb 1, 2013 - 48 pages
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In this volume, excerpted from Charles Darwin: A Celebration of His Life and Legacy (NewSouth Books, 2013), comparative psychologists Jeffrey Katz and his co-authors acknowledge Charles Darwin as the most important figure in the creation of psychology. Every day comparative psychologists rely on the Darwinian concept of common descent. The fact that the human brain/mind arose from ancestral nonhuman brains/minds suggests that we can gain insights about human behavior and cognitive abilities by studying the behavior and abilities of animals such as rats, pigeons, monkeys, and chimps. The question is whether the behavioral and cognitive differences between humans and modern-day nonhumans are of degree, as Darwin suggested, or of kind. Their own work with pigeons and monkeys leads Katz and his co-authors to side with Darwin.

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About the author (2013)

Kelly A. Schmidtke has worked as an instructor and/or researcher in at various institutions in the USA and UK, with economic, philosophy, psychology, and veterinary departments. She earned a BA from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and an MS and PhD from Auburn University. Her teaching and research interests include animal models of human behavior and evolutionary psychology.

John F. Magnotti is a doctoral student at Auburn University in Experimental Psychology. He earned a BS in Psychology and Computer Science from James Madison University, and an MS in Experimental Psychology from Auburn University. He has assisted in teaching graduate and undergraduate applied statistics, as well as general psychology. His research interests include basic issues in the comparative study of visual perception and the use of neuroimaging techniques to study fundamental processes of human memory.

Jeffrey S. Katz is an Alumni Professor in the Department of Psychology at Auburn University. He earned a BA in Psychology from Ithaca College and an MS and PhD in Experimental Psychology from Tufts University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in Cognitive Neursoscience, Cognitive Psychology, Comparative Cognition, and Sensation and Perception. His research focus is in the area of comparative cognition and has been funded by National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. Current projects involve abstract-concept learning, change detection, memory processes, and neuroimaging.

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