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Alan M. Daniel & Mauricio R. Papini

In: 21st Century Psychology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 32: Comparative Psychology

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Comparative Psychology
Comparative psychology

Regardless of their area of expertise, scientists who approach the study of behavior in terms of adaptive function, evolutionary history, and developmental mechanisms can be considered comparative psychologists. Comparative psychology tries to bridge the gap between psychology's focus on behavior and biology's focus on evolution. The idea that evolution often starts with a functional change, such as a novel foraging behavior or mating strategy, and morphological changes then ensue has appealed to biologists since the 19th century. The preeminence of function over form is found, for example, in Lamarck's famous example of giraffes stretching their neck to reach higher foliage, thus resulting in the transmission of longer necks to their offspring. Although modern evolutionary theorists have largely abandoned this Lamarckian mechanism, known ...

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