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Behavioral Genetics, Evolutionary Psychology, & Behavior

  • The big question in psychology has been “Nature versus Nurture”
  • Developmental Psychology: The study of progressive changes in behavior and abilities
  • Heredity, DNA, Genes, and the genome are genetic components of the “nature” part of the issue
  • Temperament is the physical “core” of personality; includes sensitivity, irritability, distractibility, and typical mood
  • Environment (“Nurture”) includes all the external conditions that affect a person, especially the effects of learning; the world around a person
  • Sensitive Periods are periods of increased sensitivity to environmental influences; also, a time when certain events must occur for normal development to take place
  • Prenatal issues include teratogens, congenital problems and genetic disorders
  • Twin studies and adoption studies have informed much of the research in this area
  • Heritability refers to the role of genetics in creating a particular trait within a selected group
  • Genes and the environment interact to create the expression of the gene
  • Evolutionary Psychology looks at traits that have helped humans adapt to their environments

Behavioral Genetics, Evolutionary Psychology, & Behavior

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  1. Intro
    • Behavioral Genetics
    • Nature Versus Nurture
    • Heredity
    • Genes
    • Genetic Makeup
    • Genetic Building Blocks
    • Chromosomes
    • DNA
    • Gene Patterns: Eye Color
    • Dominant Recessive
    • Temperament and Environment
    • Environment
    • Prenatal Issues
    • Twin and Adoption Studies
    • The Jim Twins
    • Big Conclusion
    • Heritability
    • Heritability
    • Genes and Interaction
    • Natural Selection and Adaptation
    • Evolutionary Psychology
    • Evolutionary Psychology, Continued
    • Sexual Adaptations
    • Criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology
    • David Myers
    • Review
    • Intro 0:00
    • Behavioral Genetics 0:11
      • Objective: Discuss Psychology's Abiding Interest in How Heredity, Environment, and Evolution Work Together to Shape Behavior
      • What Influences do our Genetics Have on Our Behavior, Both as an Individual, as Well as in Groups?
    • Nature Versus Nurture 0:34
      • Nature Refers to Heredity, a Person's Biological Makeup
      • Nurture Refers to the Environment, a Person's Life Experiences, Family and Education
    • Heredity 0:58
      • Developmental Psychology: The Study of Progressive Changes in Behavior and Abilities
      • Heredity (Nature): Transmission of Physical and Psychological Characteristics From Parents to Their Children Through Genes
      • DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid): Molecular Structure Shaped Like a Double Helix That Contains Coded Genetic Information
      • Genome: The Entirety of an Organism's Hereditary Information (Includes Info Coded in DNA or RNA)
    • Genes 2:17
      • Genes: Specific Areas on a Strand of DNA That Carry Hereditary Information
    • Genetic Makeup 2:46
      • DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is the Means by Which Heredity Characteristics Pass From One Generation to the Next
      • Fraternal Twins are Dizygotic Twins That Develop From the Union of Two Separate Sperms and Eggs
      • Identical Twins are Monozygotic Twins That Develop From the Union of the Same Egg and Sperm That Have Split and Have Exactly the Same Genotype (May Have the Same Genes, But Not Necessarily the Same Number of Copies of Those Genes)
    • Genetic Building Blocks 4:13
      • The Human Body Contains 100 Trillion Cells
      • There is a Nucleus Inside Each Human Cell (Except Red Blood Cells)
      • Each Nucleus Contains 46 Chromosomes, Arranged in 23 Pairs
      • One Chromosome of Every Pair is From Each Parent
      • The Chromosomes are Filled With Tightly Coiled Strands of DNA.
      • Genes are Segments of DNA That Contain Instructions to Make Proteins -- The Building Blocks of Life
    • Chromosomes 5:08
      • Picture of What is Inside a Chromosome
    • DNA 5:47
      • Linked Molecules (Organic Bases) Make Up the Rungs on DNA's Twisted Molecular Ladder. The Order of These Molecules Serves as a Code for Genetic Information
      • The Code Provides a Genetic Blueprint That is Unique for Each Individual (Except Identical Twins). The Drawing Shows Only a Small Section of a DNA Strand. An Entire Strand of DNA is Composed of Billions of Smaller Molecules
      • The Nucleus of Each Cell in the Body Contains Chromosomes Made up of Tightly Wound Coils of DNA.
      • Don't be Misled By the Drawing: Chromosomes are Microscopic in Size, and the Chemical Molecules That Make Up DNA are Even Smaller
    • Gene Patterns: Eye Color 7:01
      • Dominant and Recessive Traits
      • Gene Patterns for Children of Brown-Eyed Parents, Where Each Parent has One Brown-Eye Gene and One Blue-Eye Gene
      • Because the Brown Eye Gene is Dominant, One out of Every Four Children Will Be Blue-Eyed
      • There is a Significant Chance That Two Brown-Eyed Parents Will Have a Blue-Eyed Child
    • Dominant Recessive 7:43
      • Graphic Depicting All the Eye Color Combinations a Brown-Eyed Mother and Brown-Eyed Father Could Have
    • Temperament and Environment 9:53
      • Temperament: The Physical Core of Personality; Includes Sensitivity, Irritability, Distractibility, and Typical Mood
      • Easy Children: 40% Relaxed and Agreeable
      • Difficult Children: 10% Moody, Intense, Easily Angered
      • Slow-to-Warm-Up Children: 15% Restrained, Unexpressive, Shy
      • Remaining Children: Do Not Fit Into Any Specific Category
    • Environment 11:09
      • Environment (Nurture): All External Conditions That Affect a Person, Especially the Effects of Learning; the World Around a Person.
      • Sensitive Periods: A Period of Increased Sensitivity to Environmental Influences; Also a Time When Certain Events Must Occur for Normal Development to Take Place
    • Prenatal Issues 13:10
      • Congenital Problem: A Problem or Defect That Occurs During Prenatal Development; Birth Defect
      • Genetic Disorder: Problem Caused by Inherited Characteristics From Parents; e.g. Cystic Fibrosis, Neurofibromatosis
      • Website Link to Information on Genetic Disorders
    • Twin and Adoption Studies 14:14
      • Some Research Conclusions
      • Shared Genes Can Also Mean a Shared Experience -- Most, Not All, Identical Twins Share Placentas
      • A Person Whose Identical Twin Has Alzheimer's Has a 60% Chance of Getting It; Fraternal Twin, Only 30%.
      • On Extraversion and Neuroticism (Emotional Stability), Identical Twins are More Alike Than Fraternal Twins
      • Divorce -- If Fraternal Twin Divorced, Your Odds Increase 1.6 Times; If Identical Twin Divorced, Odds Go Up 5.5 Times
    • The Jim Twins 16:03
      • Separated at Birth -- Reconnected After 38 Years
      • Both Named Jim (Lewis and Springer)
      • Both Liked Woodworking, Driving their Chevy Cars, Watching Stock-Car Races, and Drinking Miller Lite.
      • Both Had Nearly Identical Voices
      • Personalities, Intelligence, Heart Rates and Brain Waves -- Nearly Identical
      • It Would Seem Genes Had a Profound Impact on Personality -- But the Question Remains to This Day -- Just How Much?
      • But This is Anecdote, What About Real Data?
    • Big Conclusion 17:00
      • The Environment Shared By A Family's Children Has Virtually No Identifiable Impact on Personalities of Children
      • But Why? Geneticists Are Working on It.
      • But What About Family Life?
      • So, The Question For You -- Would You Be the Same Person if You Had Been Raised in a Different Family or Culture?
    • Heritability 18:32
      • The Proportion of Variation Among Members of a Group That We Can Attribute to Genes
      • So This Compares, Within Populations, Genotypes (Genetic Makeup) and Phenotypes (The Outward, Physical Manifestation of the Organism) on Specific Traits
      • This Difference Involves Mathematics and Analysis That is Far Beyond This Course -- Take AP Bio or Genetics for Mendelian Genetics
    • Heritability 20:00
      • It is Not Behaviors That Are Inherited, But Genetic Predispositions That May Lead to the Behavior
      • Heritable Differences Between Individuals Does Not Imply Heritable Group Differences
    • Genes and Interaction 21:43
      • Interaction: The Interplay When the Effect of One Factor (Such as Environment) Depends on Another Factor (Such as Heredity)
      • Genes and Environment Work Together (Like Two Hands Clapping). Genes Code for Proteins But Also Respond to Environments
      • Example: Happy Baby Draws in More Adults Who Respond to the Happiness With Warmth of Their Own -- This Can Become a Cycle, With the Happy Baby Becoming More Outgoing and Socially Confident
      • This Kind of Interaction Can Be Applied to Virtually Any Trait, Especially Anxiety and Depression
    • Natural Selection and Adaptation 24:20
      • Only the Strong Survive is a Myth -- It's the Ones With the Most Adaptive Traits For Their Environment
      • 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
      • Mutation: The Random Error in Gene Replication That Leads to Change
    • Evolutionary Psychology 25:50
      • Evolutionary Success Helps Explain Similarities Among People
      • However, We Have Some Outdated Tendencies -- Some Genetic Traits That Were Previously Helpful May Harm Us Today
    • Evolutionary Psychology, Continued 28:07
      • Examines Psychological Traits Such as Memory, Perception and Language Using Modern Evolutionary Perspective
      • Which Human Psychological Traits Are Evolved Adaptations -- That is, The Products of Natural or Sexual Selection?
      • Examples Could Include an Ability to Infer Emotions of Others, Discern Kin From Non-Kin, Identify and Prefer Healthier Mates, and Cooperate With Others
    • Sexual Adaptations 29:47
      • Both Men and Women Looking For Signs of a Healthy Potential Mate
    • Criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology 31:47
      • Looks at Modern Traits and Looks Backward to Propose an Explanation (Similar Criticism of Freud)
      • What About the Social Implications? What Does it Mean for Our Desire to Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination? What About Our Moral Responsibilities?
      • What About Cultural Differences That Seem to Work Against Evolutionary Explanations?
    • David Myers 33:50
      • One Quote of His I've Been Using for Years: Everything Psychological is Simultaneously Biological.
    • Review 34:39
      • What Are Genes and How Do Behavior Geneticists Explain Our Individual Differences?
      • What Is Heritability, and How Does it Relate to Individuals and Groups?
      • How Do Evolutionary Psychologists Use Natural Selection to Explain Behavior Tendencies?
      • How Might an Evolutionary Psychologist Explain Gender Differences in Sexuality and Mating Preferences?