Intro to Psychology I Textbook Notes
Chapter 3Evolution, Heredity, and Behaviour
Part 1: The Development of Evolutionary Theory (58)
- Charles Darwin argued that, over time, organisms originate and become adapted to their
environments by biological means – theory of evolution.
- His concept of biological evolution – changes that take place in the genetic and physical
characteristics of a population or group of organisms over time – is now the primary explanation of
the origin of life.
- His theory transcends biology and has influenced other fields such as psychology.
- In psychology, Darwin’s concept of evolution gave psychologists a new way to understand behaviour.
Psychologists could look at behaviour in terms of origins and adaptive significance – the
effectiveness of behaviour in aiding organisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
- A complete understanding of any behaviour requires that we understand both the past and the
present conditions that influence it.
- When trying to figure out which behaviour is more beneficial, we must ask ourselves:
1) What events and conditions in a person’s lifetime might contribute to a tendency to seek or to
avoid the specific behaviour (ex. Novelty); what function does the behaviour (ex. Novelty seeking) or
its converse serve in helping people adapt to the changing circumstances of life?
2) What events and condition in the evolution of our species favoured or punished people that
exhibited this behaviour (ex. Novelty seekers); what functions has the behaviour (ex. Novelty
seeking) served in the history of human kind?
- Psychologists might research how the past environmental conditions favoured novelty seeking over
more conservative reactions and how the immediate environment influences day-to-day choices.
- They are interested in understanding both ultimate causes of behaviour – evolutionary conditions
that have slowly shaped the behaviour of a species over generations – and proximate causes,
immediate environmental events and conditions that affect behaviour.
- By understanding how adaptive behaviour developed through the long-term process of evolution,
psychologists are able to gain a more thorough understanding of our ability to adjust to changes in
our immediate environment.
- Considering the role of evolutionary factors in behaviour has resulted in a new subfield within
psychology known as evolutionary psychology, in which psychologists investigate how an organism’s
evolutionary history contribute to the development of behaviour patterns and cognitive strategies
related to reproduction and survival during its lifetime.
- The study of evolutionary psychology may help us understand the ongoing evolution of culture –
the sum of socially transmitted knowledge, customs, and behaviour patterns common to a particular
group of people.
The Voyage of the Beagle (59)
- 1831, Darwin (from England) and Captain Robert Fitz Roy set a sail on the HMS Beagle for a five
year long voyage to explore the coast of South Africa, South America, South Atlantic, and Indian
oceans and most famously the Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America.
- Plato’s doctrine of essentialism stated that all living things belong to a fixed class or kind, defined
by an essence that characterizes it alone A book which Darwin had read.