Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


The International Journal of Comparative Psychology is sponsored by the International Society for Comparative Psychology. It is a peer-reviewed open-access digital journal that publishes studies on the evolution and development of behavior in all animal species. It accepts research articles and reviews, letters and audiovisual submissions.

Volume 16, Issue 1, 2003


Common Territories in Comparative and Developmental Psychology: Quest for Shared Means and Meaning in Behavioral Investigations

Comparative and developmental psychology have impacted one another for well over 100 years. Researchers have studied developmental processes of humans and nonhumans to formulate evolutionary theories and to determine the contributions of hereditary and experiential factors at ontogenetic and phylogenetic levels. We discuss current directions in comparative and developmental research that attend to micro-developmental processes and ecological contexts as sources of variability in humans and nonhumans. This research has been a segue into studies of behavior that are integrative in scope, such the family of systems theories, which cross disciplinary boundaries. We present findings from our research on instrumental manual activity in human and nonhuman primates from a systems perspective, and argue that integrative systems approaches hold promise for understanding individuals and development of behavior across species.

Has Scala Naturae Thinking Come Between Neuropsychology and Comparative Neuroscience?

Within the broad domain of neuroscience there is a divergence between those journals that focus on human clinical topics and those that take a decidedly comparative evolutionary and nonhuman approach. This distinction reflects a deeper separation between two branches of neuroscience: the human neuropsychological and the comparative neuroscience fields. I argue that this divergence is a reflection of scala naturae thinking and that greater strides in scientific thinking can be gained by overcoming this bias in favor of deep continuity across the human and nonhuman subdomains of neuroscience.

Developing a Comprehensive Social Psychology with Shared Explanations of Primate Social Behavior

Two primate social psychologies have developed in recent decades—one that focuses on the social behaviors of humans and the other on nonhuman primates. Despite the gains in knowledge in each field of social psychology, the two research traditions seem to be largely unaware of the other’s existence. Our common evolutionary ancestry makes this ignorance about the “other” social psychology especially troublesome for both fields. This article explores possible points of mutual interest that might lead to shared explanations of social behavior. In particular, I discuss how the topics of sexual behavior, cooperation and conflict resolution, and culture could benefit both social psychologies with respect to theory and methodology.

Why Cognitive Psychologists Should Know Comparative Psychology; Why Comparative Psychologists Should Know Cognitive Psychology

The author contrasts the interpretative perspectives offered by comparative and cognitive psychology. Four strengths of the comparative program are considered in the context of recent research on animals' capacity for uncertainty monitoring or metacognition. However, several historical limitations of the comparative perspective are also disc—in these areas the cognitive perspective holds the stronger interpretative hand. The author considers the negative consequences that comparative psychology has garnered from the continued premium it has placed on low-level associative explanations of behavioral phenomena, and the constructive synergy that might come from integrating the comparative and cognitive programs.