What Is the Difference Between Animal Psychology and Ethology?

Animal psychology has pretty important place for human psychology studies today. Not only studies on human psychology, but also examining the behavior of mostly domesticated animals living with humans, associating them with diseases and making arrangements for this are also directly related to animal psychology. Although it was not considered to be an important issue in the past, it has become essential to understand animal psychology to understand life today.

animal psychology

What is Animal Psychology?

The animal psychology examines the behavior of animals and their physiological responses. Animal psychology is pretty important for evolutionary studies. Living creatures from the same family, similar feeding and reproductive behaviors, behaviors that vary depending on living conditions and the factors that cause this are directly related to animal psychology.

One of the most striking studies on animal psychology has been to examine the activities of different parts of the brain by inactivating the amygdala in rhesus macaques. With this research, he has made tremendous progress in the treatment of diseases in which the brain functions abnormally, such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy. (Grayson et al., 2016)¹.

In addition to scientific research, if we simply need to talk about animal psychology, we deal with the emotions and thoughts of animals. “Do animals have feelings, or can animals think?” Many animal lovers are curious about these questions. According to many researchers, animals can think and express their emotions just like humans. If we give a short example of the thinking of animals; We can make this clear with simple examples such as chimpanzees’ ability to make simple tools, crows’ ability to solve difficult riddles, parrots’ ability to imitate, and dolphins’ ability to recognize their own image in a mirror.

Do Animals Have Senses?

Although scientists have not been able to fully prove that animals can love, and there are some findings regarding this. Concretely, mammals have the same brain regions that humans can feel similar emotions to. At the same time, social animals may spend more time with an individual in the group and may grieve over the death of that individual. We can explain the grieve of animals as stopping to eat, refusing to mate, and sitting in the corner doing nothing. I would also like to talk a bit about the relationship between humans and pets.Many of us have often wondered if our pet really wants to be petted.

At this point, it is very important to learn the body language of our pet. For example, when dogs open their belly, many people think that the dog wants to be petted. However, dogs do this behavior to indicate that they want to be alone. In particular, we should introduce ourselves to the animals we will meet for the first time, and then give a sign that we want to pet them. If the pet responds to you and shows that it wants to be petted, you can continue. I will explain the body language of animals in different articles.

One of the biggest mistakes made when comparing animal psychology and human psychology is to make the mistake of thinking that the thinking mechanisms of animals and humans work exactly same. But, the thinking mechanisms of many animals are different from each other. Animals often think simpler and arrive at simpler results. At this point, we can give the following example in order to clarify the issue in the most correct way, even child psychology and adult psychology are quite different from each other today.

When we leave individual differences aside, the thinking mechanisms of adults and children’s thinking mechanisms proceed very differently from each other. In adults, the thinking mechanism is much more complex, so when the adults and the kids thinking the exact same thing, they reach quite different results. The thinking mechanism of animals is exact like this, we experience the same thing but the pet things differently. Like, pet owners think, “If I kick him, he can understand he did a bad thing.” but the dog think, “He kicked me, but I don’t know why, so I am just going away for him.”

What is Ethology?

Ethology is similar to animal psychology. It is possible to shortly explain ethology as the science of animal behavior. It is a sub-branch of zoology that studies natural behaviors and tries to explain animal behaviors evolutionarily without creating any artificial environment.
Ethology has a great role in understanding domestic animals and increasing the welfare in the living area, eliminating certain behavioral disorders and educating animals.

It is possible to give examples of the areas of interest in ethology as follows:

  • Cooperation in animal feeding, hunting and mating behavior, hunting or finding food,
  • Behaviors of animals before, during and after the attack,
  • Migration of animals and their adaptation to different environments,
  • Behavioral changes due to brain anatomy,
  • Learning and practice behaviors in animals,
  • Personality and social behavior of animals,
  • Animals mating and offspring care behavior…

What is the Difference Between Ethology and Animal Psychology?

Ethology is a discipline directly related to neuroethology, behavioral ecology, sociobiology, wildlife biology, evolutionary psychology, comparative psychology, neuroanatomy, neurobiology, and zoology.

Psychology, on the other hand, is a discipline directly related to biology, physiology, zoology, genetics, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. As it can be understood from here, the two branches of science are not completely independent of each other. However, it will not be possible to say that psychology and ethology deal with exactly the same subject.

Animal psychology works on clarifying the interaction of animals with each other, the reactions to the environment, and, in turn, to humans. However, animal psychology only studies the behavior of an animal or its social group and place in it.

Ethology, on the other hand, scientifically evaluates the interaction between species and natural life/wildlife conditions. Ethology focuses on evolution and the impact of the evolutionary process on animal behavior and development.

To summarize, while ethology deals with the genetic development of living things in a socio-cultural structure, psychology focuses on the cognitive and mental processes of a living thing within this structure. At this point, it should be kept in mind that brighter and more precise results will be obtained when ethology and psychology are evaluated together, and psychology and ethology research should not be neglected.


David S. Grayson, Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Christopher J. Machado, Jeffrey Bennett, Kelly Shen, Kathleen A. Grant, Damien A. Fair, David G. Amaral,
The Rhesus Monkey Connectome Predicts Disrupted Functional Networks Resulting from Pharmacogenetic Inactivation of the Amygdala,Neuron, Volume 91, Issue 2, 2016,Pages 453-466, ISSN 0896-6273,

Bir yanıt yazın

E-posta adresiniz yayınlanmayacak. Gerekli alanlar * ile işaretlenmişlerdir