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Levels of Analysis ( LoA ). Biological Cognitive Sociocultural. Biological LoA. Focuses on physiology and genetics Gender differences via genetic makeup XY and XX chromosomes Gender differences from the impact of hormones testosterone and estrogen. Cognitive LoA.

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Levels of analysis loa

Levels of Analysis (LoA)




Biological loa
Biological LoA

  • Focuses on physiology and genetics

  • Gender differences via genetic makeup

    • XY and XX chromosomes

  • Gender differences from the impact of hormones

    • testosterone and estrogen

Cognitive loa
Cognitive LoA

  • Focuses on mental processes

    • Memory

    • Thinking

    • Perception

    • Attention

  • Gender differences via gender schema theory

  • Social cognition

  • Gender stereotypes

Sociocultural loa

  • Focuses on how environment and culture impact behavior and thinking

  • Impact of cultural definitions and roles for our mental representations of each gender

  • Gender differences explained through social learning theory

    • Watching individuals of the same sex for behavior cues

Biological loa physiology behavior
Biological LoA: Physiology & Behavior

  • Biology can affect cognition and cognition can affect biology…relationship is bidirectional

  • Physiological factors that impact behavior:

    • Brain processes

    • Neurotransmitters

    • Hormones

    • Genes

  • Physiology does not work alone since environmental stimuli influence our behavior

    • Stressful experiences

    • Attractive person passing by

    • Brain damage caused by trauma

Goal of ib psychology
Goal of IB Psychology

Taking a holistic approach to human behavior

Interactionist Approach: Both sides of nature (biology) vs. nurture (environment) argument.

Principles of human behavior biological loa
Principles of Human Behavior (Biological LoA)

  • Behavior can be innate since it is genetically based

    Evolution..key role in behavior

  • Animal research can provide insight to human behavior

    Much research done with animals

  • Biology correlates with behavior

    Links between specific biological factors and specific behaviors

Reductionist approach
Reductionist Approach

Micro-level research; breaking down complex human behavior into simple parts.

Criticized for being over simplistic but allows us to gain detailed knowledge of human behavior

Important because it allows understanding of several factors that influence one behavior

Impact of neurotransmitters on behavior
Impact of Neurotransmitters on Behavior

  • Influences mood, memory, sexual arousal, and mental illness

  • Acetylcholine

    • Muscle contraction, helps with development of memory in hippocampus

  • Dopamine

    • Voluntary movement, learning, feelings of pleasure

  • Norepinephrine (noradrenalin)

    • Arousal, alertness, stimulation of sympathetic nervous system

  • Serotonin

    • Sleep, arousal levels, emotion

Affect of serotonin on behavior
Affect of Serotonin on Behavior

Tokyo University (Kasamatsu and Hirai, 1999)

Aim: How sensory deprivation affects the brain

Buddhist monks deprived of food, water, no communication, and exposure to cold weather

48 hours, hallucinations

Blood samples before and right after hallucinations (serotonin levels increased which activated the frontal cortex and hypothalamus)

Conclusion: Sensory deprivation released serotonin which altered monks experience.


Stimulate the production of neurotransmitters

Block receptor sites if too much is produced

Technology and the brain behavior
Technology and the Brain & Behavior

  • Technology gives researchers the ability to monitor and discover the “map” of the brain’s activity

  • Previously, case studies were used; usually situations that would be unethical to reproduce in the lab.

    • Case studies of brain damaged patients carried out over a long period of time (longitudinally)

      • Phineas Gage, Paul Broca, Carl Wernicke

    • Allows for observation of short-term and long-term effects

Localization of brain function
Localization of Brain Function

The idea that specific parts of the brain are responsible for specific functions

When a behavior is localized in the brain, it is possible to trace the origin of the behavior to a specific part of the brain.

Does not explain ALL human behavior but is a major step forward in brain research

Research on the role of the nucleus accumbens pleasure center
Research on the role of the nucleus accumbens (pleasure center)

Robert Heath (1950s)

James Old (1950s)

Electrically stimulated parts o f the brain in depressed patients=experienced pleasure

One patient (B-19) electrically stimulated himself 1,500 times in 3 hours

Experienced euphoria and elation and was eventually disconnected against his will

Rats would receive electrical stimulation to the nucleus accumbens when a lever was pressed

Crossed over electrified grids and preferred pleasure lever over food and water

Brain functions and ethical considerations
Brain Functions and Ethical Considerations

  • Electrical stimulation of the nucleus accumbens is based mainly on dopamine (desire) and serotonin (satiety and inhibition)

  • Via animal studies, all drugs increase the production of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and reduce serotonin.

    • Cocaine and nicotine

  • Frequent use of drugs increase the amount of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.

    • Why drug addicts have an obsessive drive to seek more drugs even though they know its not good for them

Spiders on drugs
Spiders on Drugs


Technology vs invasive techniques
Technology vs. Invasive Techniques


Invasive Techniques

  • Study the active brain

    • EEG, PET, fMRI

  • More ethical

  • May be misleading

  • Ablation (removing) & leisoning (scarring) techniques on animals

  • Harm cannot be reversed

    • Ethical?

    • Pain?

Biological loa genetics behavior
Biological LoA: Genetics & Behavior

  • Behavioral genetics: Understanding how both genetics and the environment play a role to individual variations in human behavior.

  • Rhesus macaque monkeys & humans

    • 93% genes are shared, the 7% makes a large difference

  • Complexity of genetics:

  • Inheritance contributes to behavior and acts as a building block however, it is not probable that one specific gene is responsible for complex behaviors:

    • Intelligence, criminal behavior, attachment, altruism




Biological / genetic predisposition

The diathesis-stress model

The model looks at the genetic/biologic vulnerability to a disorder/disease and the stress or traumatic environmental stimuli that may trigger a disorder (such as depression)

The diathesis-stress model uses the analogy of a "walking time bomb" to help explain why, for example, not 100% of identical twins both get depression. It also helps to explain why a large percent of people in traumatic situations (post 9/11, rape, etc.) never develop PTSD.

The model further talks about a balance -- the greater the diathesis or predisposition, the less the stress required for the disorder to "appear" and visa versa. 

Last years notes on genetics and evolution i hope you didn t lose them
Last years notes on genetics and evolution… I hope you didn’t lose them!

If you did, in your hours of free time, check these out on the wiki 


  • Genes that are passed down from parents to their off-spring

  • Humans are composed of 24 pairs of chromosomes

    • 20,000-25,000 genes

  • James Watson: Human Genome Project

    • 1990-2003

    • Mapped human genes

    • Regardless of this amazing accomplishment, the role of specific genes are still unknown

Genetic research
Genetic Research

  • Based off of correlation studies

  • Independent variable is not manipulated, so no cause and effect can be determined.

  • Three types:

    • Twin Studies

    • Family Studies

    • Adoption Studies

Twin studies

Monozygotic (MZ)

Dizygotic (DZ)

Twin Studies

Used as basis for hypotheses since they show the different degrees of genetic relationship. In twin studies the correlation found is known as concordance.

  • Identical: one egg split in two

  • Share 100% of genes

    • Same sex

  • Fraternal: Formed from two separate eggs

  • Share 50% of genes just like any other siblings

    • Same or different sex

Family studies
Family Studies

More representative of the general population

Different degree of relatedness is compared with behavior to determine the impact of genes.

Adoption studies
Adoption Studies

  • Used to determine how great of an impact environment plays in behavior since the child does not share any genes with foster parents.

  • Often criticized because of selective placement

    • Agencies tend to find adoptive parents that are similar to their biological parents which cause a difficulty in determining separating genetic inheritance from environment influences. This process is known as selective placement.


Another principle of the biological LoA is that the environment presents obstacles & challenges for each individual.

In essence, those that adapt have a better chance of survival & having offspring which allows their genes to be passed down.

Theory of natural selection
Theory of Natural Selection

  • Members of a species acquire adaptive behaviors to survive the ever-changing environment (those better suited for environment will breed and pass on characteristics)

  • http://youtu.be/Pt2gHpqfZNA

  • Adaption: Species develop characteristics that make it more competitive in its environment

  • Charles Darwin (Galapagos Island, finches, beaks)

    • On the Origin of Species (He didn’t yet know of the biological process through which traits are inherited)

    • Descent of Man

The descent of man findings
The Descent of Man findings

  • We humans share several behaviors with other animals

    • Mate selection

    • Love of mother for offspring

    • Self-preservation

    • Similar facial expressions as apes

    • Similar feelings as animals

Monkeys vs humans
Monkeys vs. Humans

Tetsuro Matsuzawa (2007)

Looked at spatial memory in young chimps

Used 3 chimps that were taught to recognize the numbers 1-9 on a computer

Humans and chimps saw number flashed on a touch screen monitor and then the numbers were covered with blank squares and then were asked to touch the squares in sequential order.



  • Humans had more errors and less accuracy as numbers were flashed and replaced by squares quicker

    • As agriculture developed, spatial memory skills aren’t as important for finding food

    • Perhaps this skill was replaced by the ability to develop language

  • Chimps had astonishing memory; no difference in their recall in relation to the amount of time that the numbers were replaced with squares.

    • Adaption for survival skills such as remembering where food and danger is located in the rain forest

Ethical considerations
Ethical Considerations

  • Because research in human genetics looks to identify certain genes involved in hereditary diseases there can be some negative outcomes:

    • May pose risks to participates due to the link between genetic heritage and people’s life

    • Information obtained may cause stress to participants family

    • If misused, information can be stigmatizing which could lead the inability to get a job or health insurance.

Once again notes last year over confidentiality should be revisited
Once again, notes last year over confidentiality should be revisited 

Aboriginal people may object to genetic studies

Eugenics and other forms of discrimination is the cause.

Consent and speaking to community leaders are a must for many aboriginal and ethnic groups.

Intelligence revisited

During the beginning of the 20th century, governments and schools became very interested in one’s intellectual potential and the role genetics play in IQ

Alfred Binet developed an intelligence test to help understand this concept better within the French educational system

Research has shown that poverty plays a major role in the development of a child’s intelligence

The bell curve
The Bell Curve revisited

Book published in 1994 by Harvard professor Richard J. Herrnstein

The debate about the role of genes and environment have to do with ethnic difference in intelligence is not yet resolved

Media discussed the idea that there may be intergroup differences in intelligence, thus conferring the idea that the root of intelligence in debatable

The g factor
The “g” factor revisited

  • Argued by Charles Spearman, there is a general intelligence factor that is the basis of all intelligence

  • Rather than looking a specific educational subjects (history, math, etc.) Spearman’s intelligence test measures the following:

    • Spatial ability

    • Reasoning

    • Divergent Thinking

    • Verbal Fluency

Meta analysis in relation to iq tests
Meta-analysis in Relation to IQ Tests revisited

Bouchard & McGue (1981) used 111 studies of IQ correlations between siblings from research around the world

Found that the closer the kinship the higher correlation of IQ

Meta-analysis: statistical synthesis of the data from a set of comparable studies of a problem that yields a quantitative summary of the pooled results

Minnesota twin study
Minnesota Twin Study revisited

(Bouchard et al.) Longitudinal study, been going on since 1979

Most cross-cultural study to date (participants from across the world)

Compares MZAs (identical twins raised apart) to MZTs (identical twins raised together)

Mean age of MZAs was 41 (start of study), until this study most research was done with adolescents

Twins completed 50 hours of testing and interviews

Findings revisited

Conclusions revisited

70% of intelligence can be attributed to genetics inheritance, the other 30% is due to other factors

Much research has supported the MTS

The size and nature of the sample has made it one of the most impressive study ever conducted

Criticisms of the mts
Criticisms of the MTS revisited

  • Relied on media cover for participants

  • Ethical concerns about how twins were reunited

  • No adequate control to establish the frequency of contact between the twins prior to the study

  • “Equal environment assumption”

    • Cannot assume twins raised together experience the exact same environment (different friends, teachers, exposure to stimuli, etc.)

Adoption studies for intelligence
Adoption Studies for Intelligence revisited

Scarr & Weinberg (1977) and Horn et al. (1979)

Researched parents that raised adopted and natural children

Any significant differences in IQ between the adoptive and biological children would be attributed to genes

No significant difference in IQ correlations were found

Parents were wealthy, white, middle class and high IQs & adopted children were poor, lower-class backgrounds, and lower IQs

Environmental role on iq
Environmental Role on IQ revisited

  • Wahlstein (1997) found that intelligence has a lot to do with environment and genetics

  • Found that transferring an infant from a low SES to a home where parents had a high SES improved childhood IQ scores 12-16 points (about one standard deviation)

  • Enriched environment may raise IQ in children

    • Strong interaction between genes and the environment to produce intelligence level

Less effort hypothesis
Less Effort Hypothesis revisited

  • Hainer et al. (1988) used PET scans to see how much energy was used in solving problems vs. data recall

    • Helped decipher what intelligence is (based on knowledge or ability to solve problems)

  • Those with higher IQs had lower metabolic rates when solving a reasoning problem in comparison to those with a low IQ

    • No difference in data recall

  • Those with a higher IQ use less energy to think than those with lower IQs

Iqs change over time
IQs Change over Time revisited

  • Plomin & Petrill (1997) found that correlations between parent and child IQs change over time

    • Ages 4-6, 40% correlation

    • Early adulthood, 60% correlation

    • Older adults, 80% correlation

  • Our genetic disposition pushes us towards environments that accentuate that disposition, thus leading to increased heritability throughout life

  • SES seems to the most important environmental factors in IQ development

Flynn effect
Flynn Effect revisited

  • James R. Flynn noticed a rise in average scores on intelligence tests in most parts of the world over the last century

  • UlricNeisser (1997) The America Scientist, average mean scores are going up about 3 points every decade (increase is even higher in abstract reasoning)

    • Better nutrition

    • Improved schooling

    • Different child-rearing practices

    • Increase in technology in modern life

    • Living a higher visual environment plays an important role in IQ scores

  • Does this prove a real increase in IQ or just better understanding of intelligence and tests?