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PS102 Ch. 3 Notes.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Carolyn Ensley

Claudia Vanderholst Chapter 3: Genes, Evolution, and Environment Where do differences come from? Previously two perspectives:  Nativists: emphasized genes and inborn characteristics (nature)  Empiricists: focused on learning and experience (nurture) The genetics of similarity  Evolution is a change in gene frequencies within a population over many generations  Changes may result from: mutations (errors in copying of DNA sequences during division of cells that produce sperm and eggs)  During formation of sperm or eggs small segments of DNA can cross over to another chromosome pair Natural selection  Evolutionary process formulated by Darwin  Individuals with genetically influenced traits that are adaptive in particular environments tend to survive and reproduce in greater numbers (“survival of the fittest”)  As a result, traits become more common in the population Sexual selection  Darwin also proposed that genes were determined by sexual selection o Intersexual selection – a member of one sex chooses a mate from the other sex on the basis of certain characteristics o Intrasexual selection – members of the same sex compete for a partner of the other sex Darwin to psychology  So we may have psychological functions that are adaptive  This was the focus of the ‘functionalists’ in the US in the early 20 century o Thought all psychology served a ‘function’  Led to the idea of mental modules Mental modules  One perspective is that mind reflects mental modules shaped through evolution  Mental modules – a collection of specialized and independent sections of the brain, developed to handle specific survival problems (location of food, finding a mate) Innate human characteristics 1. Evolution has shaped human development through innate characteristics such as: 2. Infant reflexes 3. An interest in novelty Page 1 of 4 Claudia Vanderholst 4. A desire to explore and manipulate objects 5. An impulse to play and fool around 6. Basic cognitive skills How nativism was misused  Many of Darwin’s views were misused by people to make very racist claims  People from different parts of the world ‘evolved’ different brains and abilities  Used it to justify slavery and ‘modernization’ of ‘primitive‘ Then came Watson  “You can take any child from anywhere and they can learn how to do anything”  Flew in the face of the nativists; suggested the opposite. That very little was inborn and certainly that there was no differences in races and sexes.  Differences observed were due to learning Behaviourism  They claimed that psychology was learned, not genetic  Aggressiveness, kindness, knowledge, preferences, aptitudes all learned  But there is a problem  Some traits are definitely inherited (innate), some traits are definitely learned, some are both o Language is an example of ‘both’  So it looks like we need to understand how genes and environment interact with one another to unlock why people are the way they are Unlock the secrets of genes  Genes are the basic units of heredity that are composed of DNA and located on chromosomes  Chromosomes: rod-shaped structures found in the nucleus of every cell (23 pairs)  DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) – chromosal molecule that transfers genetic characteristics by the way of coded instructions for the structure of proteins.  Within genes, four chemical elements of DNA ‘code’ for protein sunthesis  Adenine (A) – Cytosine (C) – thymine (T) – Guanine (G)  Genome – full set of gen
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