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Lecture 3

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Craig Burkett

Biological Basis of Social Behavior • According to this view we are born prewired or predisposed to behave socially. This proposition is old and stems from evolutionary theory. o Religious propositions also – how we are determined by God. o This is an old proposition (biological) o That our brain is a social brain • Evolutionary theory 1 o Natural selection: organism are well equipped to cope with environmental challenges to survival  We have physical apparatus to ensure survival o Genetic endowment: biological structure we receive for this purpose  Ensure we have bio structure to develop what we need in order to survive in our environments o Different species have different genetic make-ups. o The most fit species to meet environmental challenges are the ones that will ultimately survive  GREAT FOR HUMANS – we are living longer than ever before  When we look at animal species – some species such as racoons survive extremely well, while others don’t o The most adaptive characteristics within species will prevail this strengthening own species in the long run through reproduction of the fittest  If it the case, in order to find mate you have to be strong; those are the ones that will reproduce, and those who can’t secure a female won’t be able to reproduce, so the genetic pool with be geared towards having bigger stronger males  Most adaptive characteristics: change over time (can be higher intelligence) • Sociobiology o EXTENSION OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY TO SICAL BEHAVIOIR o An attempt to organize the facts about the adaptive significance of social behavior in animals, and by extension, in human beings (focus is on behavior -> very broad)  Not only physical characteristics, can include cognitive traits, other psycho traits and their adaptive significance o The systemic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior, including sexual and parental behavior, in all kinds of organisms, including humans  We are predisposed to these behaviours, for example: moms have hard time leaving babies behind as they can be harmed otherwise. This is a biological predisposition.  These bio predispositions, are just as important as physical characteristics inherited through genetic transmission  This is genetic based motivation o Behaviour is dominated by a genetically based urge to produce the max offspring’s, either directly or by favoring one’s next of kin  Directly – by sex  Indirect – example: you were travelling with your niece, and something happened, all kids were at risk, you would save niece, then friends children, then same race/culture, then rest.  It is very controversial theory. • Has become like the new bible • And has a lot of authority • Key problem: not evidence and support, problem is the implications resulting from human behaviour! o For example survival of fittest: bullying is okay (as stronger are better), and justifies Nazi wars, etc. o Raises ethical concerns, problem is not with validity of theory. • 3 aspects must be emphasized o 1. Evolution concepts apply as much to behaviour as to structural characteristics  Structure not only important, but BHEVAIOUR. If we cant behave, we can’t fit in. If you have Aspergers syndrome, communication and interpersonal skills are affected even though intelligence is good. Hard time keeping a job, hard time relating to people and making relationships, and less likely to have families and children. You are going to ‘’fail’’ the evolutionary process. o 2. The adaption of a species is always to a particular environment (ecological niche)  The setting and context is important in which the child is developing (in psychology)  Adaption has to be to an environment.  Humans cannot survive in other environments as well. Power outage, people ran away to hotels, friend’s home, etc.  A rigid distinction between what is innate and what is acquired is meaningless in this account. • Nature vs. Nurture. • Wrong to make distinction between the two. • For example, we are biologically able to speak, but we will only speak when exposed to it when young. • How are organisms predisposed for social behaviour? o Fixed action patterns – simple stereotyped actions that are activated by certain quite specific stimuli. o These are prewired (part of child’s genetic endowment)  Usually functional early at life • Have to be! – otherwise child won’t survive • Also other species (fish can swim as soon as they are born), other lage animal walk very quickly • Humans take long to develop – but once we develop we go very far o Different from reflexes! Because they can be modified by environment  Example: hammer on knee can be temporarily habituated.  Gradually over time, reaction to stimuli changes, more adaptive as we move on o Each species has its own fixed patterns that are necessary for sur
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