Ethology is the study of the biological bases of behavior. This subdiscipline of the behavioral sciences uses methods of objective observation, detailed analysis, and experimentation to define the processes underlying the development, function, causative mechanisms, and evolution of behavior patterns. Originally, ethology focused on behavior patterns thought to require little or no learning for their expression. Gradually, however, as knowledge of the developmental influences underlying the expression of various behavior patterns emerged, a realization that individual experience plays an important role in the expression of species-specific behavioral patterns has come to be accepted.

History and Modern Usage

Charles Darwin promoted the idea that humans and animals shared certain behavioral traits, an idea that was important in establishing the approach to comparative studies of behavior. Oskar Heinroth, studying ...

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