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Chapter 3 The Nature and Nurture of Behaviour Genes: Our Biological Blueprint Chromosomes threadlike structures made of DNA that contain the genes DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) complex molecule containing the genetic information that makes up the chromosomes

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Chapter 3

  • The Nature and Nurture of Behaviour

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Genes: Our Biological Blueprint

  • Chromosomes

    • threadlike structures made of DNA that contain the genes

  • DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

    • complex molecule containing the genetic information that makes up the chromosomes

    • has two strands-forming a “double helix”- held together by bonds between pairs of nucleotides

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Genes: Our Biological Blueprint

  • Genes

    • biochemical units of heredity that make up the chromosomes

    • a segment of DNA capable of synthesizing a protein

    • The paradox 30,000 genes for 300,000 proteins

  • Genome

    • the complete instructions for making an organism

    • consisting of all the genetic material in its chromosomes

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Evolutionary Psychology

  • Natural Selection

    • the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those contributing to survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations

  • Mutations

    • random errors in gene replication that lead to a change in the sequence of nucleotides

    • the source of all genetic diversity

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Evolutionary Psychology

  • Evolutionary Psychology

    • the study of the evolution of behavior using the principles of natural selection

    • Behaviour expressed prior age of mating can possibly be selected for by natural selection

  • Gender

    • in psychology, the characteristics, where biologically or socially influenced, by which people define male and female

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Evolutionary Psychology

  • Men everywhere preferred attractive physical features suggesting youth and health

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Behavior Genetics

  • Behavior Genetics

    • study of the power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior

  • Environment

    • every nongenetic influence, from prenatal nutrition to the people and things around us

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Romanian Orphanages

  • Elinore Ames (1997) study

  • Early deprivation and malnutrition

  • When adopted before 4 months there seem to be no long term consequences

  • When adopted after 8 months or more they were developmentally delayed (could not walk or talk at 2.5 years)

  • Parents adopting more than one orphan had much more difficulty and stress in parenting

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sex only

Same or

opposite sex

Behavior Genetics

  • Identical Twins

    • develop from a single zygote (fertilized egg) that splits in two, creating two genetic replicas

  • Fraternal Twins

    • develop from separate zygotes

    • genetically no closer than brothers and sisters, but they share the fetal environment

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Behavior Genetics

  • Temperament

    • a person’s characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity

  • Heritability

    • the proportion of variation among individuals that we can attribute to genes

    • may vary, depending on the range of populations and environments studied

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Behavior Genetics

  • Interaction

    • the effect of one factor (such as environment) depends on another factor (such as heredity)

  • Molecular Genetics

    • the subfield of biology that studies the molecular structure and function of genes

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Early Environmental Influence

  • Two placental arrangements in identical twins

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Rat brain




Rat brain




Environmental Influence

  • Experience affects brain development

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Environmental Influence

  • A trained brain

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Environmental Influence

  • Culture

    • the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next

  • Norm

    • an understood rule for accepted and expected behavior

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Environmental Influence

  • Personal Space

    • the buffer zone we like to maintain around our bodies

  • Memes

    • self-replicating ideas, fashions, and innovation passed from person to person

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The Nature and Nurture of Gender

  • X Chromosome

    • the sex chromosome found in both men and women

    • females have two; males have one

    • an X chromosome from each parent produces a female

  • Y Chromosome

    • the sex chromosome found only in men

    • when paired with an X chromosome from the mother, it produces a male child

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The Nature and Nurture of Gender

  • Testosterone

    • the most important of the male sex hormones

    • both males and females have it

    • additional testosterone in males stimulates

      • growth of male sex organs in the fetus

      • development of male sex characteristics during puberty

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Testosterone effects:

  • Dr. Daryl O'Connor (2000), a co-author of the study, said: "Previous research has shown that men outperform women on spatial ability, such as map reading, and women outperform men on verbal ability. It is a well-known gender difference.

  • The fact that higher levels of testosterone improved men's verbal fluency was unexpected and these findings give us a preliminary insight into the non-sexual benefits of the hormone." The World Health Organization study was presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Winchester.

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  • a set of expectations (norms) about a social position

  • defining how those in the position ought to behave

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The Nature and Nurture of Gender

  • Gender Role

    • a set of expected behaviors for males and females

  • Gender Identity

    • one’s sense of being male or female

  • Gender-typing

    • the acquisition of a traditional masculine or feminine role

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Same Gender relationships

  • Deborah Tannen

  • He says She says (Video Clip)

  • Sexism

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The Nature and Nurture of Gender

  • Social Learning Theory

    • theory that we learn social behavior by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished

  • Gender Schema Theory

    • theory that children learn from their cultures a concept of what it means to be male and female and that they adjust their behavior accordingly

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Harris (1998) – peer influence

  • Don’t Blame Your Parents: The Nurture Assumption on Trial (talk at APA)

  • Parents influence on their children is context dependent - specific to home.

  • “The idea that children need constant attention and affection until the day they leave for college is a product of our culture.” – an unfounded assumption

  • Theory of group socialization is that the people who had formative influence are not parents by the peer group as a whole.

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Addendum: Natural and not-so-natural Selection

  • Basic idea of natural selection is that only some survive to mate and carry forward their genetic code

  • So selection into the gene pool is from the offspring that have offspring

  • The simple notion of mating competition has been used as a major explanatory approach by evolutionary psychologists

  • However there are other situations that limit the gene pool

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Other Natural Selection mechanisms include

  • Miscarriages and spontaneous abortions

  • Death during pregnancy of mother or child

  • Death in childbirth of mother or child

  • (size of head and size of pelvis)

  • Fatal childhood diseases

  • Accidental death of children (childhood mortality rates)

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Not-so-Natural Selection include

  • Genocide (as in Ruanda)

  • Child and adolescent suicide

  • Child Mortality related to child labour

  • Child armies (function of lighter guns)

  • Selective small family size (Canada and income)

  • (China - one child social policy and preference for males)

  • Selective Abortions (in India 97% of abortions are female)

  • Adoption Services

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Selective Application of Medicine

  • Fertility clinics for the advantaged

  • Genetic Screening - Downs Syndrome

  • Genetic Screening - aborting females

  • Intensive Care for premature babies ($100-200k per case)

  • Genetic therapies

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Selective applications of Science

  • Selective Cloning of the Very Wealthy?

  • Patenting of mutant genetic code

  • Targeted Biological Weapons (selective flu)

  • Enhanced training in how to kill via videogames for children

  • Controlled famines with gene pool consequences

  • Implanted identification devices (Digital Angel)