Chapter 6.pdf

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Western University
Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Chapter 6: Social Development Life History Theory and Development • Childhood is ultimately for reproduction • Many of the behaviours and traits present in childhood might not be of direct benefit to the child, but might be beneficial to the adult that the child will ultimately become Life History Theory • Life history theory describes development in terms of the decisions made by organisms in order to maximize their inclusive fitness • Anaive view of development is that it is essentially a passive process • In contrast, life history theory argues that sexually immature individuals play a much more active role in determining their optimal developmental path • Life history theory argues that at any point in time an individual should invest effort in order to maximize fitness • Fitness consists of a number of components that are often grouped into two categories: • Somantic effort 1. survival, maintenance 2. preparations for reproduction • Reproducive effort 3. reproduction 3a. production of offspring 3b. rearing of offspring • What makes the organism’s task difficult is that investing time and effort in any one of these activities necessarily prevents time being invested in one of the others • Activities directed towards enhancing one component might actually reduce fitness on another • An organism has to choose how much of its time and resources it spends engaging in each of the fitness-enhancing activities is known as the principle of allocation • The environmentally contingent nature of allocation gives rise to a number of individual differences in behaviour Parents’Choices: Offspring Quality Versus Offspring Quantity • On the r-K continuum organisms adopting the r-selected strategy focus on producing as maybe viable offspring as quickly as possible and investing minimal resources in their upbringing • K-selected only a small number of offspring is produced, but the parents invest heavily in the care and upbringing of each individual • Whether a species employs an r- or K- selected strategy depends primarily on the chances that the offspring will die as a result of harsh conditions; when this is high, r-selection is optimal • Th claim is that when the environment is uncertain and the chances of offspring reaching maturity are low, it is often optimal to maximize current fitness; conversely, in predictable environments where there is a high chance of offspring surviving to maturity it might be best to maximize future reproductive fitness Maximizing Fitness From The Point of View of Offspring • When conditions are harsh, the best thing might be to maximize current survival; when times are good it might be better to maximize future success by exploiting learning opportunities Chapter 6: Social Development Attachment Theory • Central to Bowlby’s theory of attachment was the idea that children form a working model of the self and others as a result of their early experiences with the mother • The working model is a mental representation that includes both cognitive and affective components and is used to guide the child’s subsequent behaviour • The formation of a working model was thought by Bowlby to have a critical period between the ages of about six months and three years • Ainsworth classifies infants into three categories: secure attachment, insecure avoidant, and insecure resistant Applying Life History Theory toAttachment • One third of people are insecurely attached in one way or another • Why has natural selection permitted such an apparently perverse state of affairs to continue? • One possibility is that rather than the behaviours that accompany insecure attachment being thought of as deviant and maladaptive they might be optimal given the environment in which the child is reared • Attachment experiences provide children with information relating to the amount of risk in their environment, which is used as an index of their reproductive value • Jay Belsky’s Life History Theory ofAttachment • Jay Belsky proposes the following adaptationist accounts of the three principal attachment styles • SecureAttachment • Belsky argues that the parenting style that leads to secure attachment represents the emphasis of parenting over reproduction • When they reproduce, such children are likely themselves to be sensitive parents who invest heavily in their children, so long as the economic situation allows it • Insecure-avoidantAttachment • Belsky proposes that in situation when the predicted availability of resources is low and other cannot be trusted, maximizing future reproductive fitness might be inefficient • Insecure-resistantAttachment • Belsky proposes that such children are being driven into a null reproductive strategy, where they are destined to have no children • There is little direct evidence for this particular part of Belsky’s theory, partly because comparatively few individuals fall into this category • James Chisholm’s Life History Theory ofAttachment • Chisholm proposes that the child’s attachment style is a response to the particular reproductive strategy adopted by his or her parents • Avoidant attachment styles are formed in response to parent who are unwilling to invest • Resistant attachment styles are the result of parents who are unable to invest in their offspring Chapter 6: Social Development Evaluation of Life History Explanations ofAttachment • The life history approach has strong similarities with that of Darwinian medicine which also makes the claim that many apparent forms of dysfunctional behaviour are perfectly functional when inclusive fitness is used as a currency rather than society’s expectations • Aproblem with current life history accounts of development is their over-reliance on the importance of the parental environment • The optimal reproductive strategy might be different for males and females under the same set of environmental conditions • Males and females such that there are likely to be innate difference between males and females in their personalities and preferences The Effects of Parenting • Genes that ensure that parents will protect their children are more likely to be passed on than those that do not • Behavioural Genetics: Separating Nature From Nurture • One of the big problems in studying the effects of parental behaviour on offspring is that parents potentially influence their children in two entirely separate ways • First, there is the effect of the genes: a biological parent shares with each child 50% of his or her genes by common descent so parent obviously exert a genetic influence o the child • Second, in most families, there is the social influence on children of growing up in close proximity to their parents • If children resemble their parents in their behaviour we don’t know whether it is due to shared genes, social learning or some combination of both • Results of twin studies estimate that the environment accounts for between50-60% of the variation among them on a variety of traits • It therefore follows that genes account for 40-50% of the variation • Behavioural geneticists further divide the environment into two separate forces: the shared environment, which consists of the influences common to and the non-shared environment, which consists of all the influences that are specific to an individual • These three effec
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