According the Oxford Dictionary, psychology is “the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context,” Many professionals in the field today would generally provide the same roundabout information if asked. However, with the inclusion of Comparative Psychology, many dictionary and professional definitions will have to be updated.
Comparative Psychology is the relatively new branch of psychology that focuses mostly on the study of purposes and perceptions of animal behavior, or non-human behavior, which is causing all sorts of controversy. Its validity is a hot button topic amongst professionals in both psychology and veterinary medicine as well as the layman dog owner. Some mental health professionals fear that acknowledging or including Comparative psychology as an accepted branch would harm the forward progress and positive public perception that they, and those before them, have fought so diligently to obtain. Others, however, argue that as with the evolution of all social and physical sciences, psychology too must grow and change when new facts come to light so as to continue to be relevant and beneficial to those it serves.
The number of practicing Comparative Psychologists in the U.S. is extremely low but each up-coming semester hosts the potential to graduate more to the field. It is growing in popularity. To date, this writer was not able to locate any state or federally mandated list of requirements for individuals practicing as Comparative Psychologists. Therefore, it is very important that consumers be aware of the actual degree held by the individual of whom they seek these services. Any degree or field of study outside of a PhD./PsyD. in Animal Behavior or Comparative Psychology would be seriously suspect and should be questioned since the field is still in its adolescent years with a limited number of qualified, practicing professional.
Definition of psychology in English:. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2015, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/psychology
Hauber, M. (n.d.). Animal Behavior and Comparative Psychology. Retrieved September 14, 2015, from http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Doctoral-Programs/Psychology/Training-Areas/Animal-Behavior-and-Comparative-Psychology
ISCP. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2015, from http://comparativepsychology.org/index.html
Crystal K. Bray, B.S.
WKPIC Doctoral Intern