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Chapter 6

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2740
Stephen Lewis

Chapter 6: Genetics and Personality The Human Genome  Complete set of genes an organism possesses  Human Genome Project 1. Number of genes is similar to other species but genes are decoded more variably 2. What were thought to be “genetic junk” potentially impacts everything from physical size to personality  Some genes that differ across individuals influence the behavioural characteristics Controversy about Genes and Personality  Eugenics - Design the future of the human species by fostering the reproduction of persons with certain traits and by discouraging the reproduction of persons without those traits  Knowledge is better than ignorance; doesn’t have to be used for evil Goals of Behavioural Genetics  Genetics and environment can modify traits  Behavioural geneticists are not content with figuring out the percentage of variance What is Heritability?  The proportion of observed variance in a group of individuals that can be accounted for by genetic variance  Phenotypic variance: observed individual differences  Genotypic variance: individual differences in genes  Environmentality: percentage of variance attributed environmental differences  The larger the heritability, the smaller the environmentality and vice versa Misconceptions about Heritability  Can be applied to a single individual (it can’t) - Genes and environment are inextricably intertwined, cannot be separated  If the environment changes, then heritability can change - Depends on both the range of genetic differences in the population and the environmental differences in that population  Heritability is best regarded as an estimate of the phenotypic differences Nature-Nurture Debate Clarified  Differences in genes and differences in environment - Depending on what you are asking one may be more significant  Level of the individual or the level of a population of individuals Behavioural Genetic Methods  Teasing apart the contributions of genes and environments Selective Breeding – Studies of Humans’ Best Friend  Occurs by identifying the dogs that possess the desired characteristics and having them mate only with other dogs that also possess the characteristic - Desired characteristics must be under the influence of heredity Family Studies  Correlate the degree of genetic relatedness among family members with the degree of personality similarity - High heritability: more related are more similar - Typically share the same environment Twin Studies  Estimate heritability by gauging whether identical twins (monozygotic) are more similar to each other than are fraternal twins (dizygotic)  Equal environments assumption - The environments experienced by identical twins are no more similar to each other than are environments experienced by fraternal twins  Some twins are believed to be identical but are actually fraternal Adoption Studies  Can examine the correlations between adopted children and their adoptive parents, with whom they share no g
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