Evolution - Week 1 Notes

7 Pages
Unlock Document

Western University
Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Week 1 - Introduction to Evolution Unit 1.1 - What is Evolutionary Psychology? ● Examples of studies in evolutionary psychology 1. Which dancer is better? (study of symmetry) ● Movements are from real people, and dancing motions captured by a computer ● Stick figures strip away all info and just leave the movements ● Participants asked to rate how attractive these movements are (fluctuating asymmetry) ● Fluctuating asymmetry - deviations from perfect symmetry in bilaterally symmetrical species ● Environmental stress during development leads to asymmetry ● Individuals who are better able to cope with stress develop more symmetrically ● Symmetry also influences mate choice and attractiveness ratings ● Facial symmetry - correlated to physiological, psychological and emotional health measures ● Symmetric men: ● Rated as more attractive ● Have more sexual partners ● More extra-pair sexual partners ● Begin sexual intercourse earlier in life 1. Attractiveness ● Study took photos of females, made them pee in a cup after to measure hormone levels (estrogen, etc) ● They then made a composite of the 10 women with lowest levels of late follicular oestrogen metabolite, and 10 women with highest levels ● Facial attractiveness ratings with/without makeup ● Positive correlation between attractiveness, femininity and health and high estrogen in late follicular phase ● Associated with increased fertility ● No effect when make-up was worn 1. Wason card selection task ● Most people don't get correct answer ● But if you rephrase the question by using a social situation instead of numbers/letters (exact same logical problem), people can solve it easily ● Cheater detection - detecting social cheater is easier than mere rule verification ● This ability is cross-culturally universal ● We have a cognitive adaptation/module to detect cheats (ability is advantageous to us because we're social species) ● What is evolutionary psychology? ● Comparison to Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) ● Culture is what's paramount in determining human behaviour on the basis of constraints and biological conditions (cultural relativism) ● Assumptions of SSSM: 1. The blank slate - (tablula rasa) empiricist idea that we are born into the world as a blank slate, and experiences shape our minds and behaviours (in favour of nurture view) 2. Irrelevance of biology 3. General laws of learning ● A weakness of evolutionary psychology is it's often overzealous in pushing that this is the best way to study psychology Unit 1.2 - Antecedents to Evolutionary Psychology ● Historical evolutionary approaches to human behaviour ● Herbert Spencer - influential writer who coined the expression, "survival of the fittest" ● Although, survival of the fittest is a bit of a circular phrase - who survives? The fittest. Who is the fittest? The ones who survive ● His ideas preceded Darwin's theory of natural selection ● Rejected dualism - saw mind as biological counterpart of body ● PreDarwinian view of evolution as progressive and developed philosophy that humans should only obey natural laws ● Social Darwinism - eg. If the poor aren't getting enough food, too bad for them (let the least fit die off and let natural selection occur) ● Thought that humans would evolve for the better this way ● Francis Galton - prolific polymath ● Invented correlation, regression, weather map, method for classifying fingerprints, and founded psychometrics ● First to use questionnaires, stats to study human variation, and twin studies ● Coined term eugenics and nature vs nurture ● Wide ranging studies in heredity and almost rediscovered Mendel's laws ● Interested in animal breeding ● DNA/genetics was a long ways away still ● Called Spencer's view dysgenics (social darwinism) ● Eugenics - heredity is important, but doesn't mean we should punish the poor/weak, but rather encourage successful people to have babies and pass on successful DNA (control our evolution) ● However, this view presupposes we know what desirable traits are - many people may disagree about what is considered 'fit', advantageous and desirable ● Social ideology, and included in a range of ideologies ● Plato's Republic - sketched out a way to a utopian society using eugenic ideologies (selective breeding amongst humans) ● Galton noted that many social programs counter natural selection ● Less 'fit' rather than being weeded out, were sheltered and reproduced ● Galton didn't propose coercive methods, but just encouraged elite to reproduce ● Eugenicists argue social policy was required to improve state ● Contrast to Social Darwinism which argued that competition would result in optimal state ● View had early support among many intellectuals - H.G. Wells, Alexander Graham Bell ● Eugenics still has an influence on today's society; it influences social policies like… ● Promoting differential birth rates ● Compulsory sterilization ● Marriage restrictions ● Genetic screening ● Birth control ● Immigration control ● Segregation (racial and mentally ill) ● Extermination ● NAZI Germany ● Positive (promote reproduction of some groups) and negative eugenics (killed off people of other groups) ● One of the main reasons eugenics is so taboo now is because of WWII and holocaust ● Post-WWII, eugenics is generally reviled ● However some eugenic practices still in force today (forced sterilization, immigration policy) continued for decades ● Genetic engineering and fertility technology are creating new problems in bioethics ● Does studying inheritance of behaviour inevitably lead to eugenics, classicism, racism, and sexism? (critique of evolutionary psych) ● Not a valid critique - just because we say humans are a product of natural selection, doesn't mean you're a proponent of eugenics and social darwinism ● If we look at some of the worst genocides, they consisted of targeted killings of certain ethnic groups; Hitler was an extreme eugenicist ● Pinker - argues that it's not an emphasis on genes or evolution that's dangerous, but the desire to remake humanity by coercive means (eugenics or social engineering) and the belief that humanity advances through a struggle in which superior groups triumph over inferior ones ● Cultural determinism (opposite of biological determinism) ● Sad case of "Little Albert" ● Questioned ethics of this study - is it ok to scare a baby and make him fear animals? ● John Watson conditioned Little Albert to fear a rat through associative conditioning ● Turns out that Albert was no healthy, likely neurologically impaired and died at age of 6 ● His lack of response prior to conditioning cannot be considered normal infant behaviour ● Sad Case of David Reimer ● Following botched circumcision, he received sexual reassignment surgery and was raised as a girl ● Maintained female gender identity throughout childhood ● Discovered his birth sex as a teenager and reassumed gender role until committing suicide ● Cultural determinists have been no less guilty of horrendous maltreatment of people than biological determinists ● Deterministic views that fail to respect individual rights are equally wrong ● Rise of SSSM ● Behaviourism ● Cultural relativism ● "Academic left" ● Post-modernism ● Empiricism ● Romanticism ● Following the Holocaust and WWII ● Rise of civil liberties for racial minorities and women ● Theories of mind developed to make racism and sexism as untenable as possible ● Increased awareness that eugenics and social darwinism contributed to a lot of bad social policies ● Shift designed to refuse biology - downplay or denial of inherent differences among individuals ● More of political shift rather than an academic one ● Concepts contributing to SSSM ● The Blank Slate ● Tabula rasa - we're born blank and our earlier experiences are important in development ● School of philosophy of empiricism founded by Locke and Mill ● Locke - reaction to church and monarchy ● Mill - reaction to class differences product of society ● Basically reaction to prior crap that happened in past due to biological view ● We shouldn't say people are inherently one way or another; we're all born equal ● Empiricism, in part, was a response to Hobbes, who argued that humans in natural state are essentially animals ● Said laws are important to create order and peace and create a beneficial society ● Behaviourism ● Watson - wanted psychology to become a hard science; rejected the mind, and proposed that all we can study is behaviour b/c we can measure and quantify it ● Experience is what drives everything ● But behaviourism later faded away ● We can do more than study behaviour using a rigorous scientific method (can study memory, etc) ● SSSM and empiricism remained dominant themes ● The Noble Savage ● Rousseau's romanticism - view that natural condition of man is virtuous ● If a person grew up in an isolated world with no rules/without society, he would live a good life (believed society led to corruption ● Are humans 'naturally good'? i.e. are hunter-gatherers more peaceful, egalitarian, and ecology loving? ● In reality, risk of dying is much higher in hunter-gatherer cultures than cultures that have laws ● Most men don't die of old a
More Less

Related notes for Psychology 3229A/B

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.