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PSYC 3480 Lecture Notes - Pascal Boyer, Richard Dawkins, Speed Dating

27 pages61 viewsFall 2013

Course Code
PSYC 3480
Dan Meegan

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The exam is cumulative, so you have to know everything from textbook chapters 1-15, everything from all the lectures, and all of caveman logic.
However, Professor Davis said there is a stronger emphasis (70%) on information post midterm, so textbook chapters 8-15, lectures starting from
learning onwards, and Caveman logic chapters 4 to the end (however, seeing as Caveman Logic doesn't exactly parallel the order in which we learned
everything I'd recommend reading the beginning as well if you haven't already).
Evolutionary Psychology – November 7, 2012
•  Cause of abnormal behavior?
o Very few of us would argue that demonic possession is the explanation however
there are some cultures/groups of people that believe this as the basis
o Majority of our society would opt for medical basis (eg. disease, illness,
etc) genetic basis (heredity)
o In both cases, implying the patient has NO CONTROL over their state
 Large similarity between polar opposite views
 Eliminates personal responsibility rationalize that it isn’t their fault that
they’re crazy
 External/internal causes beyond their control
o Morally questionable when one tries to justify harmful behavior with the ‘I’m
crazy I can’t help it’ claim
•  Political correctness becomes compromised when reacting to/describing cases of
abnormal behavior
•  Normal can be a strictly statistical term ‘most people don’t do that’
o Hard to characterize parameters of abnormal
•  Mental illness introduces the medical law
•  Addictive behavior medical condition or something irresponsible?
o Eg. morbidly obese – medical disorder or a fat slob that can’t control their
o Eg. alcoholic in the gutter medical affliction or an irresponsible drunk?
•  Story about 450 lb guy prof brought to radio station for job:
o Difficult for him to get into car
o Interview went well (competent guy) and then left
o Wondered if staff would discuss his weight after he left despite its irrelevance
 People began to downgrade his credentials, scrambling for reasons to
discredit his qualifications and not like him
•  Weight was not mentioned
 Prof said “anyone notice he was fat?”
o We have attitudes toward abnormal properties whether we know it or not
 If he had a medical excuse we would accept it more easily
 If he was just a food-loving guy we would judge him
•  DSM – diagnostic and statistical manual
o Meant to be theoretical because no consensus about cause-and-effect thus
parameters are fuzzy
o No one really knows how to treat these afflictions
o Freud is the only previous agreement in the DSM
o Largely economically driven need categories because these categories impart
a certain reality to these abnormal behaviors
 Insurance issues – if it isn’t in the DSM, not obligated to pay for it but if it
is then there is compensation
 Eg. Road rage syndrome – jerk on the road is now diagnosed with a
tangible disorder and receives treatment/compensation
•  Evolutionary psychological accounts for abnormal behavior are atypical:
1) These behaviors we categorize as abnormal are not disorders, but rather adaptive
defenses (parallel = fever/pain)
i. Not something gone wrong (despite discomfort they confer) something
gone right adaptive means they serve a purpose
ii. Eg. non clinical depression can be seen as beneficial when considering
adaptive value; conservation of energy resources to channel activity to
things that increase fitness
iii. Eg. anxiety advantageous in the Pleistocene but uncomfortable now
2) Abnormal behavior represents side defects that came along with genes that were
actually selected due to adaptive value
i. Clusters of genes that piggyback on other genes
ii. Genotype makes it to the next generation because of association with
genes that were selected
3) Frequency-dependent selection – eg. sociopathy – terrific strategy when it
is rare in the group
i. In a group of sociopaths (frequency increased), however, not
ii. Works at some optimal frequency, but when exceeded not effective
4) Results from absence or malfunction of a particular module
i. Eg. autism – person is missing some imperative module involved in
social interaction
ii. Parallel defective colour vision system; something is missing/broken
in the module for vision
5) Mismatch between present environment and the Pleistocene
i. Eg. ADHD – advantageous in Pleistocene but incompatible with current
demands (formal schooling, fixed jobs etc)
6) Abnormal/maladaptive behavior really represents the extreme of the normal
distribution of some polygenic trait
i. Observed behavior is way off the optimal value of the polygenic trait in
either direction (+/- 2 standard deviations from optimal trait value)
ii. Bound to get some crappy combinations (supposed to work on average)
when many genes are involved
o Eg. Guy working with rhesus monkeys found it was always the case in any
population of monkeys (over a lot of time conducting study) that ~60% of colony
are normal leaving 40% abnormal
 Of this abnormal group: ~20% are depressed, shy, behaviorally inhibited
in some way while remaining 20% were impulsive/aggressive
 Very stable/consistent finding, overtime and across colonies
o Appear to be unappealing phenotypes so why do these proportions persist over
 Polygenic traits thus expect these deviations from optimal
value represents extreme/tails of normal distribution
 He did not believe this decided that the absolute best thing any species
can have over time is variation(heritable diversity)
•  If not inheritable, doesn’t count/matter
•  Must maintain variation in gene pool because even if these
phenotypes are incompatible with this current environment, never
know what future environmental conditions/demands/selection
pressures will be
 Need safety net in case adaptive demand/environmental filter shift
toward either extreme of trait because natural selection can only select
among alternatives
•  If alternatives are eliminated from gene pool, species will doomed
in new environmental conditions
 Presently, bad for individual to be abnormal but good news for
the species group selection argument
•  Natural selection selects for the good of the individual not the
good of the species/group
•  NO EVIDENCE that this explanation is true
•  Hard to imagine how altruistic genes would prevail/not get selected out
o Logic suggest that these genes preclude survival/repro, which is the only way
that these genes can make it into next generation
o Altruists are necessary for the group faulty logic because argument for group
selection which is not how natural selection works
Examine common forms of mental illness:
•  Depression – incredibly common
o Evolutionary point of view – can be seen as a reasonable time out, withdrawal
from investing anymore energy/resources into futile endeavor

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