The bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species offers a good opportunity to review what role the evolutionary theory has played in the emergence and development of behaviour sciences and how this idea affects the current state of behaviour research. In this respect, the original Darwinian idea claiming evolutionary continuity not only in anatomical structures but in behaviour and in the hidden cognitive mechanisms is of great importance. Formulating such a strong version of the evolutionary continuity hypothesis is an important part of Darwin's intellectual legacy which holds an important and still-valid message for behaviour science. Namely, the only way of gaining insights into the behavioural and cognitive functioning of our own species is such a comparative evolutionary approach that takes both the phylogenetic and ontogenetic aspects of the behaviour into account. Although this Darwinian view has been received ambivalently by many different disciplines of psychology, it has a basic "triggering" role in the emergence and acceptance of comparative psychology as natural science. Nowadays, however, many directions of the modern cognitive psychological research are apparently connected to the different fields of behavioural biology accepting the approaches of the Darwinian and Lorenzian-Tinbergenian traditions. The old distinction between the "biological" and "psychological" branches of behaviour sciences seem to disappear: forming a modern evolutionary synthesis of the behaviour sciences. The effectiveness of this new discipline, on one hand, lies in its modern methodology which involves not only the traditional observational analysis of the behaviour but also makes possible to measure the endophenotype (physiological and genetic correlates of the behaviour, neural activation, etc.). More importantly, the comparative evolutionary behaviour science deals with the behaviour and its underlying cognitive mechanisms in a complex way combining the phylogenetic, ontogenetic and adaptive approaches within the same theoretical framework.
|Translated title of the contribution||A comparative approach to the study of behaviour: The effect of darwin s intellectual legacy on psychology|
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||Magyar Pszichologiai Szemle|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 1 2010|
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