The variables which control behavior are clearly not all of one kind. While we do not pretend to familiarize the reader with all the relevant variables, it is important that he gain an appreciation of at least some of the variables determining behavior other than those typically studied by psychologists. Ethology, to which we have already referred in Chapter 1, consists of the study of some of these variables. In an attempt to facilitate communication between the fields of psychology and ethology, Verplanck (1957) compiled a glossary of terms for use by workers in both areas. Being a part of biology, ethology is concerned with behavior that is controlled by variables related to the structure and function of the animal’s body. For the same reason, it is also concerned with the comparative study of behavior, i.e., with behavior which is significant with respect to the survival of the individual and the species. One can find an interesting parallel between Darwin’s theory of evolution and the process of response differentiation in operant conditioning. An analogy can be drawn between Thorndike’s felicitous phrase that the reinforced response “is selected by success” and the selection of animals for survival.
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