- In comparative psychology what is being compared and why?
Comparative psychology refers to the study responsible for investigating the brain activity of animals which influences their behavior in one way or the other. It seeks to compare behavior at a cross-species level. Therefore, the behavior of different species within their natural habitat is being compared here and how best this species are evolving to survive. This comparison includes how people and animals behaviors relate in the process of competing for the scarce resources available e.g. land. The reason attached to this comparison is to understand and appreciate the process of natural selection as clearly spelt out by Charles Darwin. Natural selection can be defined as the process through which species evolve from simple life forms to complex modified forms which allow them to compete for scarce resources in the process of survival for the fittest (Darwin, 1859).
- Show how variability and adaptation are crucial concepts in the theory of evolution
Variability and adaptation are crucial concepts in the theory of evolution in that all living organisms depend on them for survival. Variability refers to the difference in tactics employed by different organisms for survival and domination in a particular environment. On the other hand, adaptation refers to the ability of organisms to cope with the current condition prevalent in their environment for survival purposes. It’s through these concepts that evolution takes place. However, this is not the only channel through which evolution occurs. In the process of variability and adaptation an organism is genetically modified such that its successor has features or skills which are more suited to aid the organism to survive in its habitat. Eventually, the organism transforms completely and a new creature is formed over time. Like the case with the early man (Fisher RA, 1930).
- Show how imprinting involves both innate and learnt behaviours
Imprinting refers to a learning process through which young ones acquire behavior by responding to the way of life of other animals usually of the same kind, preferably the parents. Ducklings for instance, have the tendency to follow their mother for a particular period of time while they are very young. Imprinting influences both innate and learnt behavior by providing a plat form which guides the young one to acquire skills necessary for survival. The young ones keep learning from their parents through imprinting until they come of age when they can fully depend on themselves.
- Provide some evidence for spatial learning in animals
Spatial learning in animals can be defined as the ability of an animal to know its way within its habitat. The wild beast in Kenya have distinct routes which they make use of every time they migrate to and fro the Maasai mara. This route, according to the animals, is safest. It does not matter how long it takes before another migration takes place the wild beast still remember their route. Other animals especially in arid areas have a tendency to preserve water catchment area which are only visited when other sources have either dried up or they have become dangerous grounds invaded by predators.
- How do animals communicate? Give examples of different kinds of communication.
Animals indeed do communicate to each other and also to humans, in the case of domestic animals. However, they don’t use words like we humans do. They communicate through use of body language and the different sounds they make. For instance, a dog approaching someone while wagging its tail conveys a welcoming message therefore one can proceed on and approach it. On the converse, a dog approaching one while backing furiously conveys a message that you are not welcomed there and it would be unwise to approach.
- What conclusions can be drawn from the efforts made to teach human language to chimps?
The conclusion that can be drawn from the efforts made to teach human language to chimps is that it is impossible to accomplish such a project. The reason behind this is “the tendency to reinstate auditory stimuli…in other words to imitate sounds” (Rumbaugh, 1977) does not exist in apes.
- What are the disadvantages of living in a group?
Living in a group has its advantages and disadvantages. In this case however, we will consider the disadvantages. Living in a group is disadvantageous in the sense that it brings about competition among members of the group. As a result, some members tend to exploit those that don’t have the ability to keep their competitive spirit on. Thus, with limited resources only those members with the persistence to survive make it. Also, group living has the effect of socializing one into bad behavior. As one tries to identify with a particular group he/she imitates other group members’ behaviors even though they might be contrary to what he/she stands for. One is socialized into bad habits associated with the group.
Moreover, living in groups has the effect of discouraging personal growth. In the event of a challenge, through the effort of group members one is able to overcome it. This doesn’t live room for personal development as almost everything is done for you. Lastly, living in groups kills the spirit of invention and innovation among individuals. Usually there is a standard procedure followed by group members. There is no room to try out new strategies or ideas, lest you are thrown out of the group.
- In what ways do females chose their mates?
Females, whether human or not choose their mate based on his ability to successfully raise a family. In the animal kingdom, various tests are carried out to determine how best a mate is prepared for the role ahead. Some birds are known to pick their mates based on how well he can build a nest. Upon completion, the female examines the nest and only settles for the mate that builds the strongest and most convenient nest for hatching.
- Describe some examples of altruistic behaviour in animal societies.
Animal altruism refers to situations when animals exhibit selfless behavior for a wider purpose of benefiting other animals of its kind or of different kind. For instance, African buffalos are known for intervening in a situation where one of them is in harms way, like captured by a predator. They fight for their own. Also, zebras are known to watch each others back while drinking water from a pound. Some drink will the rest look out for predators.
- Why are comparative psychologists currently interested in animal consciousness?
Comparative psychology is interested in animal consciousness for the purpose of understanding and appreciating the behavior of animals. This behavior is in one way or the other related to human behavior. Thus, scholars are in a position to explain how man carries out his/her activities on a day to day basis. Thus this has led to remarkable advances in issues pertaining to how the mind works, i.e. memorization ability, reasoning ability to name but a few.
Darwin C (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life John Murray, London; modern reprint Charles Darwin.
David E. Jones (2000). An Instinct for Dragons, New York: Routledge.
Fisher RA (1930) The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Fisher, Richard (2006) “Why altruism paid off for our ancestors” (NewScientist.com news service)
Hanlon, R.T.; Messenger, J.B. (1996). Cephalopod Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
Hewes, G.W. “Language Origin Theories,” in Language Learning by aChimpanzee: The Lana Project. Ed. D.M. Rumbaugh, pp. 3-53. New York: Academic Press, 1977.
Huxley, Thomas Henry (1860), “Darwin on the Origin of Species”, Westminster Review 17 (April 1860):
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