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From my standpoint, the paper by Dr. Otis raises some issues of a rather fundamental nature. The possible relations between infrahuman and human behavior may always be counted on to raise some lively issues-but I sometimes wonder in so doing if the basic point is not frequently missed. Dr. Otis, in the best tradition, seems properly diffident and cautious in extending the findings from one phylogenetic level to another. Some of the parallels comparing the maze behavior of the rat with humans (with the gap of many "psychological light years") may have tended to divert us from an important point which ma¥ very well be expressed as follows: psychologists do not necessarily study animal behavior for the sake of studying animals qua animals but as simply a matter of experimental convenience and/or expediency, if you will. There is nothing sacred about the behavior of the rat, pigeon, chimpanzee or man for that matter. For the purposes of my argument, the title of Dr. Otis' paper could have just as well read "The implications of the experimental analysis of behavior for problems in mental health." Behavior is a property of all organisms and analysis of these properties requires the deliberate simplicity of the experimental world of which lower organisms are merely a convenient part. In short, the analysis of animal behavior would seem to be less a luxury or a matter of taste than an out and out necessity imposed by the exigencies confronting the scientist in his experimental analysis of a natural phenomenon.

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Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science





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©1957 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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