Psychology 601

Winter 2006(4 Credits)
Intructor: A. C. DeVries
Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30-11:48 pm in PS 0117
Office Hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30 and by appointment
Office: PS 51
Phone: 614-538-9529,

The material in the course will be presented in a lecture-style format. The goal of the course is to learn about the basic principles of comparative psychology and animal behavior. Studies of the behavior of different species in the lab and in the field will be discussed. Topics covered in lecture will include orientation, migration, communication, reproduction, parent-offspring interaction, ontogeny of behavior and social organization. The evolutionary and adaptive significance of the mechanisms underlying behavior will be emphasized.

Schedule of Classes

Date Tentative Topic Reading
3 Jan Intoduction, aims, requirements, course overview, history Class Members:
Click here for documents
5 Jan Evolution and Natural Selection Chapter 1
10 Jan Levels of Analysis; birdsong Chapter 2
12 Jan Development of Behavior Chapter 3
17 Jan Effectors and Receptors Integrations-Central Processing Chapter 4
19 Jan Hormones and Behavior Chapter 5
24 Jan Chronobiology and Cycles in Behavior Chapter 5
26 Jan Learning: Classic Approaches, Constrants and Plasticity  
31 Jan Learning continued  
2 Feb Orientation, Migration and Dispersal Chapter 8
7 Feb Orientation, Migration and Dispersal Chapter 8
9 Feb ***Exam (40%)***  
14 Feb Communication (part 1) Chapter 9
16 Feb Communication (part 2) Chapter 9
21 Feb Predator-Prey Interactions Chapter 6
23 Feb Evolution of Feeding Behavior Chapter 7
28 Feb Courtship and Female Choice Chapters 10 and 11
2 March Parental Investment
Term papers due (20%)
Chapter 12
7 March Social Group and Evolution of Sociality Chapter 13
9 March Summary and Review  
16 March ****Final Examination (40%)****

Grades: Your final grade will be based on examination scores. The midterm and final exams will be weighted equally. % correct: A=90%-100%, B+=85-89%, B=80-84%, C+=79-75%, C=70-74%, D+=65-69%, D=64-60% and F=<59%). The exams will include multiple choice, short answer and essay questions. There are no make-up exams. No extra credit will be awarded.

Required Reading: Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach by John Alcock (Eigth Edition; ISBN 0-87893-005-1) Important! If you are having difficulty with any of the material, either in lecture or in the readings, then please see the instructor for help. The instructor is here to facilitate your learning, and that means not only giving lectures, but also consulting with you individually. The quarter is very short, so it is critical to seek assistance as soon as you detect a problem.

Required Original Paper: The literature in comparative psychology is extensive and diverse. It is often necessary to scan many articles quickly and to extract from them the essential message. It is frequently necessary to evaluate methods in order to determine if the claims in the paper are extravagant. Even with careful reviewing, articles are published that may not be tightly reasoned and frequently, alternative explanations for data are not considered. Your term paper should critically examine some problem of current interest in comparative psychology. You have considerable freedom in terms of the approach you use. However, you must use only primary research literature (you can use review articles as points of departure) and you must be critical (exercise careful judgment) in your approach. You might want to examine the development of a particular concept during the past several years by choosing a paper from 10 or so years ago and then picking a very recent paper for comparison. Alternatively, you might pick a controversial topic and examine different points of view based on different scientific methodologies, philosophies or as alternative explanations for similar observations. There is no desire on our part to limit your options; you may be able to think of some other approaches. Do not approach this assignment with the idea that there is something wrong with the papers you read. A critic is one who expresses a reasoned opinion on a matter, involving a judgment of its logical bases, correctness, value or significance. Give the reader sufficient information so that your arguments can be followed and your opinions understood, but do not abstract papers being discussed (i.e., do not write..."Fox and Hound (1985) found X. This was wrong. Cole and colleagues found Y. This was right."). Rather, focus on issues that attract your attention and present a comparative analysis. You might start by reviewing the journals, Animal Behaviour, Physiology & Behavior or Biology of Reproduction. You might also get ideas from your texts, Psychlit, or Medline. Once you find an article of interest, explore its references for other articles of related interest. Use Science Citation Index for determining the researchers who are citing papers of interest to you. The paper is very important to your final grade. Present it in good form, underlining or italicizing scientific names and using the literature citation format of the APA (an APA manual of style will be placed on reserve at the library). Please do not write less than 10 or more than 20 double-spaced pages. We expect all of your arguments to be supported by sufficient references. Your grade on the paper will be based on our assessment of your critical abilities, on the originality of your treatment, your presentation (including grammar, syntax, and spelling), and on the total development of the paper. The T.A. and the instructors will gladly help you with any aspect of your term paper. We expect you to work on this paper during the entire term and our evaluations of the final product will be based on those expectations. Failure to complete the term paper could result in a failing grade. A comprehensive outline of your term paper is due in class on February 16th 2006. This typewritten outline should include the thesis of your paper, as well as a list of the major references that you have consulted (approximately 3-5 review papers and 8-12 research papers).

Academic Misconduct: All students at The Ohio State University are bound by the Code of Conduct (see Violations of this code in this class will be dealt with according to the procedures detailed in that code. Specifically, any alleged cases of misconduct will be referred to the Committee on Academic Misconduct.

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABLED STUDENTS The policy of The Ohio State University is to provide every reasonable, appropriate, and necessary accommodation to qualified disabled students. Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss their specific needs. The student also should contact the Office for Disability Services (614-292-3307; 150 Pomerene Hall) to document disabilities and coordinate reasonable accommodations.