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From similarity to uniqueness: Method and theory in comparative psychology

Brinck, Ingar LU (2008) In Learning from Animals? Examining the Nature of Human Uniqueness
Abstract
Comparative psychology is a strongly interdisciplinary field that shares many of its experimental methods and observational techniques with ethology and developmental psychology. The great variety of theories that comparative psychology evokes to explain behavior generates a wide array of exciting and potentially fruitful accounts, but is also problematic. It increases the risk of error in the forms of inconsistent background assumptions, conceptual misunderstandings, unfalsifiable hypotheses and incoherent explanations, which in spite of perhaps being minor by themselves will impede scientific progress in the long run. Moreover, similarly to psychology at large, comparative psychology tends to emphasize empirical investigations to the... (More)
Comparative psychology is a strongly interdisciplinary field that shares many of its experimental methods and observational techniques with ethology and developmental psychology. The great variety of theories that comparative psychology evokes to explain behavior generates a wide array of exciting and potentially fruitful accounts, but is also problematic. It increases the risk of error in the forms of inconsistent background assumptions, conceptual misunderstandings, unfalsifiable hypotheses and incoherent explanations, which in spite of perhaps being minor by themselves will impede scientific progress in the long run. Moreover, similarly to psychology at large, comparative psychology tends to emphasize empirical investigations to the disadvantage of the analysis and development of theories and concepts. Consequently, disagreements that have their roots elsewhere than in methodology and experimental design do not receive sufficient attention. Furthermore, while evidence about biological evolution (i.e., the behavior and cognition of ancient animals) is notoriously hard to find, the methodology for comparing the capacities of different species is under continuous development. This forces comparative psychology to rely on the adequacy of the theoretical and conceptual framework to a greater extent than normally in the empirical sciences. In view of investigating the background of the problems that contemporary comparative psychology is facing, the present chapter examines central parts of the methodology and explanatory framework of comparative psychology as well as its global objective. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
in
Learning from Animals? Examining the Nature of Human Uniqueness
editor
Röska-Hardy, Louise S. and Neumann-Held, Eva M.
publisher
Psychology Press
external identifiers
  • Scopus:84917066283
ISBN
978-1-84169-707-9
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
12f411fa-d18a-4188-802a-94b9e6c84b0f (old id 810125)
date added to LUP
2008-01-25 08:44:26
date last changed
2016-10-13 04:48:41
@misc{12f411fa-d18a-4188-802a-94b9e6c84b0f,
  abstract     = {Comparative psychology is a strongly interdisciplinary field that shares many of its experimental methods and observational techniques with ethology and developmental psychology. The great variety of theories that comparative psychology evokes to explain behavior generates a wide array of exciting and potentially fruitful accounts, but is also problematic. It increases the risk of error in the forms of inconsistent background assumptions, conceptual misunderstandings, unfalsifiable hypotheses and incoherent explanations, which in spite of perhaps being minor by themselves will impede scientific progress in the long run. Moreover, similarly to psychology at large, comparative psychology tends to emphasize empirical investigations to the disadvantage of the analysis and development of theories and concepts. Consequently, disagreements that have their roots elsewhere than in methodology and experimental design do not receive sufficient attention. Furthermore, while evidence about biological evolution (i.e., the behavior and cognition of ancient animals) is notoriously hard to find, the methodology for comparing the capacities of different species is under continuous development. This forces comparative psychology to rely on the adequacy of the theoretical and conceptual framework to a greater extent than normally in the empirical sciences. In view of investigating the background of the problems that contemporary comparative psychology is facing, the present chapter examines central parts of the methodology and explanatory framework of comparative psychology as well as its global objective.},
  author       = {Brinck, Ingar},
  editor       = {Röska-Hardy, Louise S. and Neumann-Held, Eva M.},
  isbn         = {978-1-84169-707-9},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0xae57fe0)},
  series       = {Learning from Animals? Examining the Nature of Human Uniqueness},
  title        = {From similarity to uniqueness: Method and theory in comparative psychology},
  year         = {2008},
}