In psychological research, how is it that animal behavior can be used to infer things about human behavior?


For example, Harlow’s monkey studies were used to infer that humans require contact comfort in order to more adequately develop. Pavlov’s dogs were used to infer learning patterns in humans. Skinner’s rats were used to study conditioning, and so on. But how did these scientists know that their research was indicative of anything significant in human psychology?

How do scientists know which behaviors can be applied to humans and which behaviors are simply unique to the animal being tested? Is there a way that scientists statistically are able to assess this or is it just through observational comparisons between humans and the animal being tested?

In: 1

First you start with Darwin. We all have a common ancestor. So studying animals is like studying you ancestors. We are related to all animals, but we have a closer relationship with primates than to rodents.

Second, all brains are basically the same. They just get more complicated and add different structures.