Robert Ian Bowers

PhD in cognitive science and animal behaviour (Indiana University)

I study the behaviour and cognition of animals from a systems orientation, and an evolutionary orientation. Most often this directs attention to behaviour patterns in specific ecological contexts, notably feeding and mate choice. My research employs a range of methods, empirical and synthetic, in several laboratory contexts, including conditioning techniques, cognitive modelling, and simulation of evolutionary processes. Some specific areas of focus include causal reasoning and social influences on mate choice.

A general orienting basis for my research is a perspective that descends from ethology and that borrows generally from systems theory, known as behaviour systems theory. This approach places focus on how multiple behaviours interrelate. Thinking in terms of structured, complex systems helps address questions about complex behaviour. Through closer attention to various ways people have brought systems theoretic themes to bear on the study of biological phenomena, my ambition is to help draw principled connections among some thematically similar but practically disjoint literatures. The aim is to make this helpful and productive body of theory accessible to the study of complex systems of animal behaviour and cognition.

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