Module 11 (Behaviour Genetics &
Innate Constraints on Behaviour
- Individual differences (due to genetic differences)
- Mutations not differentially affected by natural selection
- Universaal commonalities (due to genetic similarities)
- Genetics that conferred a reproductive advantage to all
- 23 chromosomes (22 autosomes & 1 pair of sex chromosomes)
- ONE APPROACH:
Identify a specific behavioural (phenotypic) abnormality
Look for a corresponding genotypic abnormality
Ex. KE family: half suffer from a speech & language disorder
- Compare affected to unaffected:
Speech (repetition of non-words)
- Because KE adults learned to compensate by memorizing words
Orofacial motor control (open mouth & stick tongue out)
- KE adults have difficulty with mouth/face movements
Structural/functional brain abnormalities
- Genetic or environmental? Why does it affect one sibling & not another?
Since raised in same household; same environment = genetic.
- Single gene or multiple genes?
Multiple: varying degrees of disability
Single: disability or no disability
- Autosomal or Sex?
Males & females equally affected.
- Dominant or recessive?
Affected children only had one affected parent.
Interpreting Gene-Behaviour Link
- Media: the ‘grammar’ gene (idea that you could inject a pig with this gene &
make it talk).
- FOXP2 (gene linked with KE family) affects song learning in song birds.
- Reduced vocalization in mice
- FOXP2 is different in echolocating bats than in non-ecolocating
- FOXP2 different in humans than in chimpanzees - Neanderthal (DNA extracted from bones) also had FOXP2 like humans
- RECIPROCAL ALTRUISM: only being nice to someone to get something in
return later (help those in need & they are obligated to help you when you are in
A cynical view of human nature
Do not help someone who has failed to help you in the past.
- Consequences for human behaviour:
- Important to be recognized for our deeds
- “Cheater” detection & punishment (the guy who never picks up the tab)
- Important to keep track of who’s done what for whom (gossip)
- Uncomfortable to be “in debt” (resenting generous people)
QUESTIONS FROM SKEPTICS
- How do you explain anonymous philanthropy?
- Very rare
- Even though anonymous, a lot of people actually know who it was
Module 12: Culture, Gender and Other
- How environment/experience affects brain development.
- Forces guiding the course of development:
- Our environment gives us our experiences.
- Baby = blank colouring book; colours = experiences.
Experience & Brain Development
- Rats living in a more interactive & physical environment experienced a greater
growth in brain size & complexity than those living in “impoverished”
- Brain development means growth AND pruning.
To make our frequently used brain pathways work more efficiently, the unused
connections are “pruned” away.
Certain unused abilities will fade away.
- Repeated practice at a finger-tapping task begins to activate a [slightly] larger
group of motor neurons. Process continues into adulthood.
- Is parenting a powerful environmental influence on development?
Generally, environmental influences (including parenting) account for about
10% of temperament, although much higher for other features (e.g. values).
Extreme parenting, including severe neglect & abuse, increases this
Parents vs. Peers
Parents have more influence on:
Education & career path
Style of interaction with authority figures
Peers have more influence on:
Learning cooperation skills
Learning the path to popularity
Choice of music & other recreation
Choice of clothing & other cultural choices
Good & bad habit
Modules 13 & 14
- DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY examines physical, cognitive & social
development across the lifespan.
Continuity/Stages (some aspects of development are gradual & continuous,
while others change abruptly in stages)
Stability/Change (what traits persist throughout life & what changes as we
- Extreme View: change occurs in a series of abrupt, age-linked stages (like a
caterpillar butterfly; crawl walk).
- Modest View
SERIAL: development tends to happen in order – e.g., reading can’t happen until letter-sound correspondence is understood
AGE-LINKING: flexible & experience-dependent
– e.g., reading age depends on when taught lettersound correspondence
“ABRUPT”: old mistakes may still occur but with less frequency.
PIAGET: Cognitive Development
- Children makes mistakes
- Mistakes are age-dependant
- Mistakes tell us where children are developmentally (what knowlegde & skills
they have thus far).
- Schemas are necessary to makes sense of our experiences (a concept or
Schemas acccomodate new information provided by experiences (adapting
current understanding to incorporate new info).
Assimilation: interrpreting new experiences using existing schemas.
PIAGET’S 4 STAGES
- Sensorimotor (0-2): experience the world through senses & motor activites
Lack object permananence; awareness that things continue to exist
even when not percieved.
- Preoperational (2-6/7): Representing things with words & images; using
intuitive rather than logical reasoning.
Egocentrism: difficulty perceiving things from other’s point of view.
- Concrete Operational (7-11): Thinking logically abour concrete events;
grasping analogies & performing arithmetical operations.
Conservation: properties such as mass, volume & number remain the
same despite changes in the forms of objects.
Mathematical transformations (if 3 + 6 = 9 then 9 – 6 = …? )
- Formal Operational (12+): Abstract reasoning.
Hypothetical reasoning (if… then…)
Using symbols (e.g. algebra).
Potential for mature moral reasoning.
- Piaget’s legacy: cognitive milestones & appreciation of what kids are/are not
TECHNIQUES TO ASSES NEWBORN KNOWLEDGE
- Habituation: responding decreases with repeated stimulation
If the child can discriminate, no habituation.
- Visual preferences - Associative Responding: tie leg to mobile = baby learns to kick, change mobile
& baby stops kicking. Cultural Influences on Development
- CULTURE: patterns of ideas, attitudes, values, lifestyle habits, & traditions
shared by a group of people & passed on to future generations.
Not just an influence on our nature, also a part of our nature. Humans
naturally form culture.
- Each culture has norms (standards for acceptable, expected behaviour).
- Culture shock: feeling lost about what behaviours are appropriate.
CULTURAL VARIATION OVER TIME
- Language changes in vocabulary & pronunciation.
- Pace of life quickens.
- Gender equality increases.
- People sleep less, socialize in person less, stare at screens more.
- People marry more for love, but then expect more romance.
- Culture & the self: individualism & collectivism.
Individualist: cultures vaule independence. Promote personal ideals,
strengths & goals, pursued in competition with others, leading to individual
acheivement & finding a unique identity.
Collectivist: cultures value interdependence. Promote group & societal goals
& duties, & blending in with group identity, with acheivement attributed to mutual
Gender & Social Learning
- Gender identity (GI): the sense of being male of female
- Social learning – Children learn gender identity by:
Observing & imitating gender-linked behaviours
Being rewarded or punished for acting consistently or inconsistently
with GI norms.
- Alternatively: learning not sufficient to explain boys/girls acting like boys/girls
An individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.
- Focus: what makes us unique rather than what we all have in common.
- Psychodynamic: Nurture, dynamic
- Trait: Nature, stable
- Personality is a dynamic interaction between opposing influences
SIGMUND FREUD & PSYCHOANALYSIS - Psychoanalysis: both a theory of personality & a theory of psychopathology (&
Theory developed by studying cases of pathology.
Can “normal” be understood by studying “abnormal”?
- Nurture plays a significant role in personality development
- Determinism: the underlying bases of our personality determine our behaviour;
thus every act is revealing.
Freud was a determinist.
- First theory to emphasize that the unconscious mind was a significant influence
LEVELS OF MIND
Relatively small aspect of personality
Attempts to repress the unconscious
Unconscious but accessible to conscious
Relatively large aspect of personality
Influences behaviour without our awareness
DYNAMIC INTERACTION OF 3 SYSTEMS
- ID: unconscious
Nature: biological drives to seek pleasure (especially sex) and act
Pleasure principle: immediate gratification
- EGO: largely conscious
Develops through childhood+
Reality principle: managing the id’s drive for pleasure, given real-world
- SUPEREGO: largely conscious
Develops later & guided by cultural norms
Conscience: how we ought to behave
- Are due to differences in the way that the 3 systems interact with each other.
- Id: innate, biological drives
- Ego: from birth through adolescence
- Superego: 4-5 years through adolescence - Young children: immediate gratification; no sense of right & wrong.
- Adulthood: delayed gratification; fully developed morality.
- Piaget: stage theory of cognitive development.
- Freud: stage theory of personality development.
Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, Genital
- Stages distinguished by erogenous zone that is focus of id
- Each stage characterized by conflicting tendencies
- Conflicts usually resolved in healthy way
e.g. via repression of id by ego
- Id deprived of pleasure during stage
e.g. weaned too early during oral stage
- Fixation at deprived stage
- Corresponding adult abnormal behaviour
e.g. helplessness, anger or maladaptive need for oral gratification
- Anxiety results when ego struggles to manage id & superego
- Ego has defense mechanisms to reduce or redirect anxiety…
- Reaction formation
- Trait: a characteristic pattern of behaviour or a disposition to feel & act.
- Conscious (vs. Unconscious) motives
Self-report (vs. Psychoanalysis)
- Describing (vs. Explaining) behaviour
- An inventory of items for which people make self-assessments
- Factor analysis used to determine which items cluster together
Clusters = factors
i.e. people who say “true” to one item tend to say “true” to another
- Factors describe an important dimension on which we all fall
- Ex. Factor: Extraversion 3 items cluster: outgoing, practical jokes, dislike quiet reading.
Factor = extraversion
Dimension: introversion extraversion
- Statements describing people’s behaviours
- Ratte accurately how each statement describes you
- You now
THE “BIG FIVE” C.A.N.O.E
- Neuroticism (emotional stability)
HOW MANY FACTORS?
- Theories range from between 2 & 5 factors
- Ex. Eysenck & Eysenck: 2
Extraversion & Emotional stability
QUESTIONS ABOUT TRAITS
- Stability: Does one’s profile of traits change over the lifespan?
No, one’s distinctive mix of traits doesn’t change much.
However, everyone in adulthood becomes: more conscientious &
agreeable, & less extraverted, neurotic/u