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Lecture 8

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Carolyn Ensley

 Chapter 3: Genes, Evolution, and Environment  Where Do Differences Come From? o Previously two perspectives:  Nativists: emphasized genes and inborn characteristics (nature)  Empiricists: focused on learning and experience (nurture) o First we will look at the history of these perspectives and then we will look at modern approaches to the nature/nurture debate  The Genetics of Similarity o Evolution is a change in gene frequencies within a popl'n over many generations o 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 o Evolutionary process formulated by Darwin o Individuals with genetically influenced traits that are adaptive in particular environments tend to survive and reproduce in greater numbers ("survival of the fittest") o As a result, traits become more common in the popl'n  Sexual Selection o Darwin also proposed that genes were determined by sexual selection Intersexual Selection: a member of one sex choose a mate from the other sex on  the basis of certain characteristics  Intrasexual Selection: members of the same sex compete for a partner of the same sex  Darwin to Psychology o So we may have psychological functions that are adaptive o This was the focus of the "functionalists" in the US in the early 20th century  Thought all psychology served a "function" o Led to the idea of mental modules  Mental Modules o One perspective is that mind reflects mental modules shaped through evolution  Mental modules: a collections of specialized and independent sections of the brain, developed to handle specific survival problems (e.g., location of food, finding a mate) o Critics point out that not all traits are adaptive but may be by-products of other trains (not isolated)...Your belly button is a by-product trait  Innate Human Characteristics o Evolutions has shaped human development through innate characteristics such as:  Infant reflexes  An interest in novelty 3. A desire to explore and manipulate objects 4. An impulse to play and fool around 5. Basic cognitive skills  How nativism was misused o Many of Darwin's views were MISUSED by people to make racist claims  People form different parts of the world "evolved" different brains and abilities  Used it to justify slavery and "modernization" of "primitive" societies  Intelligence testing grew from this; tests meant to show that there were differences o Similarly used to make SEXIST claims  Then came Watson o John Watson was no saint o Did have one very good notion o "You can take any child from anywhere and they can learn how to do anything" o Flew in the face of the nativists; suggested the opposite...That very little was inborn and certainly that there were no differences in races or sexes o Differences observed were due to learning  Behaviourism Again o So Behaviourists claimed that psychology was learned, not genetic o Aggressiveness, kindness, knowledge, preferences, aptitudes all learned o But there's a problem  Some traits are definitely inherited (innate), some traits are definitely learned, some are both  Language is an example of "both"  So it looks like we need to unde
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