Unit IIIC - Genetics, Evolutionary Psychology, &Behavior external image What-is-EP.gif

Evolutionary Psychology: Understanding Human Nature
  • Evolutionary psychologists instead focus mostly on what makes us so much alike as humans, using Darwin‘s principle of natural selection to understand the roots of behavior and mental processes.
  • Evolutionary psychology: the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind, using principles of natural selection.
  • Natural selection:the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those that lead to increased reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations.
    • Organisms‘ varied offspring compete for survival.
    • Certain biological and behavioral variations increase organisms‘ reproductive and survival chances in their particular environment.
    • Offspring that survive are more likely to pass their genes to ensuing generations.
    • Thus, over time, population characteristics may change
Natural Selection and Adaptation
  • mutation: a random error in gene replication that leads to a change
    • genes during our ancestral history allow us to learn and adapt to life in varied environments, from tundra to jungle.
Evolutionary Success Helps Explain Similarities
  • Over generations, the genes of individuals not so disposed tended to be lost from the human gene pool. As genes contributing to success continued to be selected, behavioral tendencies and thinking and learning capacities emerged that prepared our Stone Age ancestors to survive, reproduce, and send their genes into the future.
An Evolutionary Explanation of Human Sexuality
  • As biologists use natural selection to explain the mating behaviors of many species, so evolutionary psychologists use natural selection to explain a worldwide human sexuality difference: "Women‘s approach to sex is usually more relational, and men‘s more recreational."
  • Nature selects behaviors that increase the likelihood of sending one‘s genes into the future.

Reflections on Nature and Nurture
  • We are the product of nature and nurture, but we are also an open system.
    • Genes are all-pervasive but not all-powerful; people may defy their genetic bent to reproduce,by electing celibacy.
    • Culture, too, is all-pervasive but not all-powerful; people may defy peer pressures and do the opposite of the expected.

  • Genes: Chromosomes are coils of DNA containing gene segments that, when expressed, code for the proteins that form our body‘s building blocks.
  • Habitability: describes the extent to which variation among members of a group can be attributed to genes.
  • Molecular geneticists: study the molecular structure and function of genes. Psychologists and molecular geneticists are cooperating to identify specific genes that put people at risk for disorders.

Nature vs Nurture

Define these terms:

  • nature vs nurture: The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology. The debate centers on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development. Some philosophers such as Plato and Descartes suggested that certain things are inborn, or that they simply occur naturally regardless of environmental influences. Other well-known thinkers such as John Locke believed in what is known as tabula rasa, which suggests that the mind begins as a blank slate. According to this notion, everything that we are and all of our knowledge is determined by our experience.
    • Nature: the genetically controlled qualities of an organism
    • Nurture: the environment, how one is raised, experiences
  • genetics: The study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics.
  • environment: The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.
  • genetic: relating to or determined by the origin, development, or causal antecedents of something
  • inherited: to receive (a genetic character) by the transmission of hereditary factors

For each trait below, mark whether it is acquired through genetic (G) factors or through environmental (E). If you think the trait is acquired through the interaction of genetics and environment, mark it as GE

GE_extreme, repeated violence
G_ schizophrenia
G_ manic-depression
GE_ intelligence
E_ shyness
G_Alzheimer's disease
G_ homosexuality
E_ thrill seeking
G_ dyslexia
E_ nicotine dependence
G_ hyperactivity

Genetic Revolution discussion questions:

1). If it were possible, would you want to take a genetic test telling you whcih diesases you are likely to suffer from later in life?
No, because it would promote paranoia in me. I would constantly wonder when the disease will strike me, and give me no peace of mind. I would constantly think that i already have the disease and take unnecessary precautions to approach this illness.

2). Suppose you or your partner are pregnant. Would you want the unborn child tested for genetic defects?
Yes, because this knowledge might give us some emotional readiness for what the baby will face when he/ she is born. If the baby has cystic fibrosis, it would be sad to know that he/ she has the disease and will have a short-lived life. Knowing this, we would have some sort of emotional readiness/ hat he has this condition and that it may be terminal.

3). Do you think it should be legal for employers to use genetic tests in deciding whom to hire?
No, because if employers hire only people without disorders, this would be prejudice. They can use these genetic tests to see what conditions the upcoming employee has, but that shouldn't be the final determining factor in selecting who to hire. Employees should be hired based on competence, not whether they have a genetic illness, or not.

Sex I.D. Results:

I guess this is accurate. I feel so emasculated because of these results. I'm more of a man but only nominally. I only passed zero by about 25 points. I guess I exhibit some female characteristics, like the abundant usage of words, and the inability to remember the position of the line, so i these results are pretty accurate. I FEEL SO FEMININE. :(