Psychology 3229A/B Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Great Chain Of Being, Erasmus Darwin, Naturalistic Fallacy

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Evolution & Human Behaviour
Study Notes
Lecture 1
Fluctuating asymmetry
Fl.A = deviations from perfect symmetry in normally symmetric species
Caused by environmental stress (i.e. poor nutrition) during
Refers to anatomy, not physiology
Most attractive dancers were also most symmetric
Symmetric men also have more sexual partners, begin intercourse
earlier in life, and have more extramarital affairs
Facial symmetry. . .
Correlated to measures of health
Predicts perceived attractiveness by others
Facial attractiveness & sex hormones
Attractiveness ratings taken with & without makeup; urine collected for
hormone analysis
High oestrogen (in urine) associated with. . .
Higher attractiveness ratings
Higher femininity
Makeup eliminated all effects
Cheater detection
Logical problems involving cheater detection rather than rule verification are
easier to solve
Cross-culturally universal
Evolutionary psychology & the SSSM
SSSM (Standard Social Science Model) drove psychological research for
decades; predicated on 3 assumptions:
1. Tabula rasa (blank slate)
2. General laws of learning
3. Irrelevance of biology
Critiques of the SSSM (Tooby & Cosmides):
1. Misunderstands nature of development
Genes can only act through environmental influences
Species have predispositions for traits, not destinies
2. Creates a false dichotomy (i.e. nature vs. nurture)
Example: melanin production & UVB
oGenetic effects: different cultures have different levels of
oEnvironmental effects: production depends on recent
exposure to UVB
oTrade-off between skin cancer prevention & vitamin D
3. Learning not governed by general laws (modular view instead)
4. Divides social & natural sciences
Psychological phenomena aren’t separate from biology
5. Doesn’t explain design (i.e. constrained to proximate vs. ultimate
explanations of behaviour)
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Levels of analysis
Mayr – proximate & ultimate explanations
Tinbergen – 4 questions
How does it develop? (ontogeny)
What are the causal mechanisms? (physiological)
How did it evolve? (phylogeny)
What is the adaptive function?
Cruel step-parent effect can be approached using LOAs
Reduced parental investment in non-genetic offspring
Socioeconomic status
Increased stress
Increased financial hardship in mixed families
Human universals
Denied by cultural relativists
More potential cultures that have never existed than actual cultures that
Cultures are much more similar to each other than they are different. . .
Verbal & nonverbal communication
Exchange gifts
Show hospitality
Punish theft, rape & murder
Live in family groups; track marriages; track kin relations
Sex differences in childcare & aggression
Modest about sex & bodily functions
Supernatural beliefs
Common fallacies
Deterministic/genetic fallacy
Belief that what is encoded in genes is destiny/cannot be changed
But many traits are flexible & respond to environmental
influences (i.e. PKU, IQ, etc.)
Opposite is cultural determinism
Naturalistic fallacy
Belief that what is natural is inherently right/good
But adaptations are independent of morality
Lecture 2
History of evolutionary thought
Evolution: change in allele frequency over time
Process, distinct from the mechanisms that cause it
History started about 150 years ago
Explained origin of life in natural terms (first to do so)
All life evolved from simpler elements, the simplest being water
4 elements made up the earth
Change arises through mixture of these elements (most combinations
are deleterious, but some are beneficial)
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Variation reflects deviations from ideal phenotype (i.e. two worlds, a
perfect & an imperfect one)
Great Chain of Being (scala naturae)
Species couldn’t move between levels
A fallacy because evolution is cumulative, NOT progressive
Father of taxonomy; believed taxonomies reveal the plan of God’s
Georges Cuvier
Palaeontologist; hypothesized catastrophism (i.e. local catastrophes
cause local extinctions)
Taxa replaced by immigration
Immanuel Kant
Defied Aristotle’s scala naturae
Hypothesized that anatomical structures could change to respond to
various conditions
Erasmus Darwin
Grandfather of Charles Darwin
Proposed impermanence of species; believed that competition drove
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
Inheritance of acquired characteristics (i.e. long necks in giraffes)
Thought species could be transformed
Charles Darwin
Circumnavigated the globe in the Beagle (collected fossils in Andes;
studied finches on Galapagos Islands)
Proposed theory of natural & sexual selection, but was hesitant to
Focus was on intraspecies competition
Alfred Russell Wallace
Believed discontinuity of species was due to plate tectonics
Independently proposed natural selection
Focus was on interspecies competition
Evolution: the modern synthesis
Natural selection: traits that increase reproductive success will be more
likely to appear in subsequent generations (i.e. black peppers moths pre- &
post-Industrial Revolution in Britain)
Measured through long-term field studies
3 conditions
1. Variation among individuals
2. Much of this variation is inherited
3. More individuals are produced than can survive
Fossil record
Universal genetic code
Artificial selection
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