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Chapter 8

Personality Psychology Chapter 8 .docx

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Carleton University
PSYC 2600
Elizabeth Nisbet

Chapter 8 Evolutionary perspectives on personality81 Evolution and Natural selection Evolutionary psychology is a new and rapidly growing scientific perspective and it offers important insights into human personality We carry with us the genes for the adaptive mechanisms that led for their successFrom this perspective our human naturethe collection of mechanisms that defines us as humanis the product of the evolutionary process Nonetheless humans are rarely aware of these mechanisms Natural selection aka survival selection Darwins contribution was not in observing change over time nor in noticing the adaptive design of mechanisms Rather Darwin proposed a theory of the process by which adaptations are created and a change takes place over time He called it the theory of natural selection Darwin noticed that species seemed to produce many more offspring than could possibly survive and reproduceHe reasoned that changes or variants that better enabled an organism to survive and reproduce will lead to more descendants The descendants would inherit the variants that led to their ancestors survival and reproduction Through this process the successful variants that led to their ancestors survival and reproduction Through this process the successful variants were selected and unsuccessful weeded outThis process of natural selection led Darwin to focus on the events that impede survival which he called the hostile forces of nature These hostile forces included food shortages diseases parasites predators and extreme weather AdaptationsInherited solutions to the survival and reproductive problems posed by hostile forces of nature Adaptations are the primary product of the selective process An adaptation is a reliably developing structure in the organism which because it meshes with the recurrent structure of the world causes the solution to an adaptive problemSexual selection Darwin answer to the mysteries of the peacocks tail and the stags antlers was that they evolved because they contributed to an individuals mating success providing an advantage in the competition for desirable mates The evolution of characteristics because of their mating benefits rather than because of their survival benefits is known as sexual selection According to Darwin it takes two forms In one form members of the same sex compete with each other and the outcome of their contest gives the winner greater sexual access to member of the opposite sexIt is known as intrasexual competition The characteristics that lead to success in contests of this kind such as greater strength intelligence or attractiveness to allies evolve because the victors are able to make more often and hence pass on more genes Intersexual competition is the other form of sexual selection Members of one sex choose a mate based on their preferences for particular qualities in a mate These characteristics evolve because animals that possess them are chosen more often as mates and their genes thrive Animals that lack the desired characteristics are excluded from mating and their genes perishGenes and inclusive fitness genes are packets of DNA that are inherited by children from their parents in distinct chunks Genes are the smallest discrete units that are inherited by offspring intact without being broken up According to modern evolutionary biologists evolution operates by the process of differential gene reproduction define reproductive success relative to others The genes of organisms that reproduce more than others get passed down to future generations at a greater frequency than do the genes of those that reproduce less Survival is critical for reproductive success so characteristics that lead to greater survival get passed along Success in mating is also critical for reproductive success and the qualities that lead to success in the samesex competition or to success at being chosen as a mate to get passed along The modern evolutionary theory based on differential gene reproduction is called inclusive fitness theory The inclusive part is the fact that the characteristics that facilitate reproduction need not affect the personal production of offspring They can affect the survival and reproduction of genetic relatives as well Products of the evolutionary process All living humans are products of the evolutionary process the descendants of a long line of ancestors who succeeded in surviving reproducing and helping their genetic relatives The evolutionary process acts as a series of filters In each generation only a small subset of genes passes through the filter The recurrent filtering process lets only three things pass through adaptations byproducts of adaptations and noise or random variations Adaptations are the primary products of the selective process An adaptation can be define as a reliably developing structure in the organism which because it meshes with the recurrent structure of the world causes the solution to an adaptive problem Adaptations might include a taste for sweet and fatty foods the drive to defend ones close relatives and preferences for specific mates such as those that are healthyLets examine the components of the definition of adaptation The focus on reliably developing structure means that an adaptation The focus on reliably developing structure means that and adaptation tends to emerge with regularity during the course of a persons life The mechanisms that allow humans to see for example develop reliablyBut this does not mean that vision develops invariantly The development of the eye can be perturbed by genetic anomalies or by environmental trauma The emphasis on reliable development suggests that evolutionary approaches are not forms of genetic determinism Environments are always needed for the development of an adaption and environmental events can always interfere with or enhance such development The emphasis on meshing with recurrent structures of the world means that adaptations emerge from and are structured by the selective environment Features of the environment must be recurrent over time for an adaption to evolve The venomous snakes must be recurrently dangerous ripe fruit must be recurrently nutritive before adaptations to then can emerge Finally an adaptation must facilitate the solution to an adaptive problem An adaptive problem is anything that impedes survival or reproduction Stated more precisely all adaptations must contribute to fitness during the period of time in which they evolve by helping an organism survive reproduce or facilitate the reproductive success of genetic relatives
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