Ethology (from Greek: ἦθος, ethos, "character"; and -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology (not to be confused with ethnology, which compares and contrasts different human cultures).
Although many naturalists have studied aspects of animal behavior throughout history, the modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun with the work during the 1930s of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and Austrian biologist Konrad Lorenz, joint winners of the 1973 Nobel Prize in medicine. Ethology is a combination of laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to certain other disciplines — e.g., neuroanatomy, ecology, evolution. Ethologists are interested typically in a behavioral process rather than in a particular animal group and often study one type of behavior (e.g. aggression) in a number of unrelated animals.
The desire to understand animals has made ethology a rapidly growing topic, and since the turn of the 21st century, many prior understandings related to diverse fields such as animal communication, personal symbolic name use, animal emotions, animal culture and learning, and even sexual conduct, long thought to be well understood, have been modified, as have new fields such as neuroethology.