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Lecture 3

Lecture 3 Jan 14 2014.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3100
Pat Barclay

Evolutionary Psych 3100 Lecture 3: Levels of Analysis Jan 14 2014 WHY DOES THE DOOR OPEN? (motion sensor automatic doors) - Sensor that senses photons moving, triggers electrical response and moves - Other answer: it opens to let customers in… - If there’s 2 answers, one has to be wrong, so which is wrong?... but neither are - Addressing different aspects of the question: why does the door open and how does the door open? o HOW= MECHANISM o WHY= FUNCTION WHY DOES THE HEART BEAT? - To pump blood (function – ‘the reason’) - Signal that sends a neural electric signal that causes contractions (mechanism) - What would happen if we tried to study the heart knowing only the mechanism but not the function (the why)? WHY DO WE EAT? - To give us nutrients which give us strength (function) - Empty stomach sends signal to brain = emotional sensation = I’m hungry (mechanism) o Some of our food desires/preferences are hardwired (ex. Sweets, fats) o Psychological adaptation: connection between taste buds and the brain o Brain is set up to like and dislike things that will keep us alive; natural selection (ex. The dung beetles brain is set up to enjoy feces, as it will help them survive…) o Sexual interaction and social interactions are enjoyable as it benefits us; reproduction and not being isolated *we follow proximate motives – such as the mechanism, we are not necessarily consciously seeking that function; we are not necessarily concerned with reproductive success when we search for a mate, we just do things that are statistically associated with reproductive success *our psychological mechanisms have developed in a way that is statistically associated to reproductive success; meaning on average we do things that are linked to such results Timbergen’s 4 Types of Questions/ Levels of Analysis Proximate Causes Ultimate Causes Mechanism: direct physiological, Function: what effect does it have on cognitive, neurological, etc., causes of reproductive success? behaviour at that time Why have that mechanism? Why did it evolve? What causes it to persist rather than being selected out? Development of that Mechanism Phylogeny (evolutionary history): What (ontogeny): processes that cause a did that trait evolve from? When in our mechanism to develop within an lineage? individual’s lifetime BEHAVIOUR OF BREASTFEEDING Mechanism - specific hormones that cause milk production, neurological pathway that processes how infant cries-> distress -> desire to nurture -> actual breastfeeding behaviour Development - begins with birth -> cascade of hormones -> create multiple effects such as stimulation of mammary glands, rewire the brain so that the mother is concerned for her child -> learning of ‘how to’ and its importance. Something happens within a woman’s life history to understand the benefits. Function - provide nutrients to infant… survival Phylogeny - evolved out of some parental investment and arose in an early mammalian ancestor, millions of years ago - we have the capacity to breastfeed because we are mammals, that’s what it means to be a mammal (this is not an alternative to why it exists though, the function answer above and mechanistic are both also correct) HELPING BEHAVIOUR ‘Johnny helping Suzie’ Mechanism - concern vs. feels good about helping vs. felt guilty about not helping (all going on in Johnny’s brain at the time of helping vs. not helping… triggering the behaviour at
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