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Chapter 16 Notes
Cultural evolution – The adaptive change of a culture to recurrent environmental pressures.
It is mainly driven by psychological forces. Cultural evolution is a product of human intellect and physical
capacity, both of which have strong genetic components.
Lifestyle – The aggregate behaviour of a person; the way in which a person leads his or her life.
Cultural evolution has been a primary agent involved in shaping lifestyle. Although the consequences of
unhealthy lifestyle behaviours have obvious negative biological implications, the behaviours themselves
can be acquired and maintained by both biological and psychological factors. Natural selection does not
occur as these unhealthy traits are not related to reproduction. Law of effect states that cultural practices
and customs that result in reinforcement tend to be maintained, if not elaborated (this includes unhealthy
In the last 150 years, our diets have changed as they are now considerably higher in fats and lower in fibre.
This is largely due to the consumption of processed foods, fried foods and sweets.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) – The narrowing of blood vessels that supply nutrients to the heart.
Cancer – A malignant, uncontrolled growth of cells that destroys surrounding tissue. (29% deaths)
Serum cholesterol – A fat-like chemical found in the blood. One form (LDL) promotes the formation of
atherosclerotic plaques (clog arteries). Another form (HDL) may protect against coronary heart disease.
Cultures having the highest death rate due to breast cancer are those whose citizens consume relatively
large amount of fats. Why might we prefer high fat foods and sweets? In the past, our ancestors who faced
starvation would be best served by eating fat, which provides high caloric value.
Lack of exercise is correlated with increased risk of CHD. People who exercise regularly appear to
accumulate less body fat and to be less vulnerable to the negative effects of stress.
Paffenbarger found 3 things with exercising:
-1413 of the 17000 students died, 45% percent from CHD and 32% from cancer. More of these
deaths occurred in participants who had led sedentary lives.
-Alumni who reported that they exercised 50 to 55 km of running or walking per week faced half
the risk of dying prematurely as that faced by those who reported that they exercised 10 or fewer
km per week.
-On average those who exercised moderately (30 km) lived 2 years longer than those who exercised
less than 10 km.
Chapter 16 Notes
Aerobic exercise – Physical activity that expends considerable energy, increases blood flow and
respiration, and thereby stimulates and strengthens the heart and lungs and increases the body’s efficient
use of oxygen.
Bray and Born (2004) found that students who reported lower levels of physical activity also reported
higher levels of fatigue and tension.
To say that a person is addicted to a drug means 2 things:
-A person’s nervous system may have developed a tolerance to the drug.
-A person has become physically dependent on the drug.
Tolerance simple means that the neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) respond progressively less
and less to the presence of the drug; larger doses of the drug therefore are required to produce the same
CNS effects that smaller doses produced earlier. Physical dependence means that CNS neurons now
require the presence of the drug to function normally. Many drugs also develop psychological dependence
i.e. a craving to use the drug for its pleasurable effects.
Transdermal nicotine patch is a bandage-like patch that allows nicotine to be absorbed through the skin. It
was developed by a behavioural psychologist named Frank Etscorn. This treatment is sometimes
combined with the drug bupropion hydrochloride (Zyban), which reduces the desire for cigarettes in some
people. Success rates are around 20 to 30 percent. As other treatments usually have a success rate of about
12 percent. After 5 years of not smoking, the risk of death by lung cancer is reduced by almost 50 percent.
Booster sessions could be helpful in upgrading and strengthening the original resistance strategies.
Alcoholism – An addiction to ethanol, the psychoactive agent in alcoholic beverages.
A psychoactive substance is any substance that affects brain and CNS functioning. Among the heaviest
drinkers in the country, males outnumber females by a ratio of about 5 to 1.
Generally speaking, a large person would have to would have to consume more alcohol than a smaller
person to attain the same level of intoxication; but, at a given weight, a muscular person would have to
consume more than a person with a higher proportion of body fat. This is because blood alcohol levels are
affected by body mass and muscularity.
When blood alcohol levels reach 0.3 to 0.4 percent, people lose consciousness and at 0.5 percent, neurons
in the brain that control the respiratory and circulatory systems stop functioning, causing death. In
Canada, it is illegal to drive with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.08 percent.
When using less intrusive forms of therapy such as extensive counselling, the counsellor’s aim is to teach
the individual to:
- Identify environmental cues or circumstances that may cause the addictive behaviour to occur or
Chapter 16 Notes
-Learn to behave in ways that are incompatible with the undesired behaviour;
-Have confidence that he or she can overcome the addiction; and
-View setbacks in overcoming the addiction as temporary and as learning experiences in which
new coping skills can be acquired.
Many alcoholic programs have about 30 to 50 percent success rate.
Prevention programs for AIDS and STDs must focus on the following:
-Teach people the relationship between their behaviour and contracting STDs and AIDS
-Familiarize people with safe sex behaviours, such as the proper way to use a condom
-Break down barriers to using safe sex practices, such as refusal to inquire about a partner’s sexual
history, the idea that one is invulnerable to STD or HIV infection, and myths about using
condoms (such as that only wimps use them)
-Provide encouragement and support in order to motivate behaviours that reduce STD and AIDS
These programs are least successful in situations in which a person’s personal or cultural values prevent
him or her from engaging in safe sex practices.
When negative behaviour occurs, especially on a collective, widespread social basis, it is referred to as
fear of contagion (AIDS). From past epidemics such as the bubonic plague, 4 conditions must be met in
order to have fear of contagion:
-Disease must be deadly
-Must appear suddenly
-Must have no apparent explanation
-Must believe that many people are at risk of contracting it
Behaviours that makeup our lifestyles are partly a consequence of the environmental conditions created by
cultural evolution and partly a result of our genetic and physiological constitution.
Self-control – Behaviour that produces a larger, longer-term reward when people are faced with the
choice between it and a smaller, short-term reward.
It is a prior commitment to a course of action that precludes making this decision.
Health psychology – The branch of psychology involved in the production and maintenance of sound