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Molecular Biology and Genetics
MBG 2040
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CHAPTER 6 The Biological Domain Genetics and Personality Controversy about Genes and Personality The study of genes and personality has quite a bit of controversy surrounding it because some of the ideas presented suggest that genetic differences between individuals rather than differences in parental socialization or personal experience are responsible for shaping the core features of personality Part of the reason for this controversy is ideologicalMany people worry that findings from genetics will be usedmisused to support political agendas oExif individual differences in thrill seeking are caused by specific genes does this mean we shouldnt hold juvenile delinquents responsible for stealing cars for joy ridesosome people worry that such findings might lead to pessimism about the possibilities for change if criminal behaviour is influenced by genetics then attempts at rehab may be doomed to failAnother part of the controversy concerns the idea of eugenics the notion that we can design the future of the human species by fostering the reproduction of people with certain traits and discouraging the reproduction of those without themoPeople among society may worry that findings from genetics studies might be used to support programs that prevent some individuals from breedingoAn even more extreme fear is that some people be eliminated in order to create a master raceGoals of Behavioural GeneticsOne of the central goals of genetic research is to determine the percentage of an individual difference that can be attributed to genetic differences and the percentage that is due to environmental differencesThe methods used by behavioural geneticists can be applied to any individual difference variable ie can be used to identify the cause of indiv differences in heightweight intelligence personality traits attitudes preferences etcBehavioural geneticists are interesting in figuring out both the percentage of varianceand the ways in which genes and the environment interact and correlate with each otheroPercentage of variance refers to the fact that individuals vary and this variability can be partitioned into percentages that are due to such causes differences between people due to a certain cause in percentagesCHAPTER 6 The Biological Domain Genetics and Personality What is HeritabilityHeritability the proportion of phenotypic variance that is attributable to genotypic variance oIn other words the proportion of observed variance in a group of individuals that can be accounted for by genetic varianceodescribes the degree to which genetic differences between individuals cause differences in an observed property such as height extraversion or sensation seekingEnvironmentality the percentage of observed variance in a group of individuals that can be attributed to environmental differencesgenerally speaking the larger the heritability the smaller the environmentality and vice versaMISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HERITABILITYheritability cannot be applied to a single individual in an individual genes and environment are inextricably intertwinedoheritability refers only to differences in a sample or populationheritability is not constant it is a statistic that applied only to a population at one point in time and in a particular array of environmentsif the environments change then heritability can changeoheritability always depends on both the range of genetic differences in a population and the environmental differences in that populationheritability is not a precise statistic heritability is best regarded as a mere estimate of phenotypic differences due to genetic differencesNATURENURTURE DEBATE CLARIFIEDAt the individual level of analysis there is no naturenurture debateoEvery individual contains a unique set of genes and those genes require environments during ones life to produce a recognizable individual
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