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Nature & Nurture, evolutionary psychology, & the prenatal environment

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Nature & Nurture, evolutionary psychology, & the prenatal environment. Dr. Carolyn R. Fallahi. Nature-Nurture. Which is more important? The Diathesis stress model The Liability/threshold model We figure out the relative amount of nature (genetics, biology, chemistry) & nurture (environment).

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nature nurture
  • Which is more important?
    • The Diathesis stress model
    • The Liability/threshold model
    • We figure out the relative amount of nature (genetics, biology, chemistry) & nurture (environment).
    • What about psychiatric disorders?
study techniques
Study Techniques
  • Twin Research
    • Identical versus fraternal twins (monozygotic versus dizygotic)
    • Shared environmental experiences
      • Common experiences, e.g. parent’s personality, intelligence, SES status, neighborhood live in, parenting techniques
    • Nonshared environmental experiences
      • Child’s own experiences within and outside the family that are not shared with siblings
epigenetic view
Epigenetic View
  • The interaction of heredity and environment.
  • Heredity directs the kind of environmental experiences a person has.
  • There is ongoing bidirectional interchange.
  • For example, the development of hearing and eyesight.
the study of feral children
The study of Feral Children
  • Wild children who have been separated from society.
  • The Case of Genie.
  • Other cases.
evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary Psychology
  • Species Heredity
    • All most everyone has 2 eyes
    • We all develop in similar ways at similar ages.
evolutionary theory
Evolutionary Theory
  • Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
  • Theory of evolution: sought to explain how the characteristics of a species change over time and how new species can evolve from earlier ones.
behavioral genetic studies
Behavioral Genetic Studies
  • Intelligence: overall heritability of IQ scores is about .50 or 50% of the variance is explained.
  • Identical twins raised together: .86
  • Raised apart: .72
  • Fraternal twins: .60 & .52
  • Biological siblings: .47 & .24
  • Biological parent & child: .42 & .22
  • Adopted parent & adopted child: .19
temperament personality
Temperament & Personality
  • Temperament: a set of tendencies to respond in predictable ways.
  • Buss & Plomin (1984) found .50 to .60 average correlations between temperatment scores of identical twins. The correlations for fraternal twins are about 0.
psychological disorders
Psychological Disorders
  • Schizophrenia: disturbances in logical thinking, emotional expression, social behavior.
  • Originally: thought due to a cold and inconsistent mother.
  • Now: concordance rates for identical twins: 48%; fraternal twins 17%.
  • 1% of the general population has Schizophrenia.
  • Can someone’s emotional experiences cause problems for the baby?….
    • Anxiety in mom may affect sleeping patterns of the fetus prior to birth.
mom dad s behavior
Mom & Dad’s Behavior
  • Mom & dad’s behavior both before & after conception can produce lifelong consequences for the child.
  • We are used to thinking it’s only mom.
  • Some consequences show up immediately, but half the possible problems aren’t apparent before birth.
  • Others may not appear until years after birth.
teratogenic agents
Teratogenic agents
  • Teratogens are environmental agents such as:
    • Drug
    • Chemical
    • Virus
    • Other factors that produce a birth defect.
the role of the placenta
The role of the placenta
  • The job of the placenta is to keep teratogens from reaching the fetus.
the timing quality of a teratogen
The timing & quality of a teratogen
  • At some periods: the same teratogen can have only a minimal impact.
  • At other periods … profound consequences.
  • Different organ systems are vulnerable to teratogens at different times during development.
  • What makes a teratogen problematic?
  • Critical period
  • Dosage and duration
  • Genetic makeup
  • environment
mother s diet
Mother’s Diet
  • Mother’s diet clearly plays a role in bolstering the development of the fetus.
  • Mother eats a varied diet high in nutrients is apt to have fewer complications during pregnancy, an easier labor, and a generally healthier baby.
the problem of diet
The problem of diet
  • The World Food Council has estimated that there were 550 million hungry people in the world.
mother s age
Mother’s Age
  • Women who give birth when over the age of 30 are at greater risk for a variety of pregnancy and birth complications than younger ones.
  • They are more apt to give birth prematurely.
  • Their children are more likely to have low birth weights.
mother s age20
Mother’s Age
  • Older mothers are more likely to give birth to children with Down Syndrome, a form of mental retardation.
  • About 10% babies born to mothers over 40 has Down Syndrome.
  • For mothers over 50, the incidence increases to 25% or one in four.
younger mothers
Younger Mothers
  • Women who become pregnant during adolescence (20% of all pregnancies) - are more likely to have premature deliveries.
  • The mortality rate of infants born to adolescent mothers is double that for mothers in their 20s.
mother illness
Mother Illness
  • An illness in a pregnant woman can have devastating consequences.
  • For example, the onset of rubella (German measles) in the mother prior to the 11th week of pregnancy is likely to cause serious consequences in the baby: blindness, deafness, heart defects, or brain damage.
  • In later stages of a baby, however, adverse consequences in the pregnancy become increasingly less likely.
mother illness23
Mother Illness
  • Another example: Chicken pox. This may produce birth defects while mumps may increase the risk of miscarriage.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, e.g. syphilis, can be transmitted directly to the fetus, which will be born suffering from the disease.
mother illness24
Mother Illness
  • Gonorrhea: can be passed through the birth canal at birth.
  • AIDS: Mothes who have AIDS or carriers of the virus may pass it on to their fetuses through the blood that reaches the placenta.
mother s drug use
Mother’s Drug Use
  • Mother’s use of many kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal, pose serious risks to the unborn child.
  • Aspirin
  • Thalidomide
illicit drugs
Illicit Drugs
  • Issues: the purity of the drugs purchased illegally varies significantly, so drug users can never be quite sure what specifically they are ingesting.
  • The effects of some commonly used illicit drugs can be particularly devastating.
  • Issues
  • Can restrict oxygen that reaches the fetus.
  • Can lead to an infant who is irritable, nervous, and easily disturbed.
  • Cancer
  • “Crack babies” - cocaine produces an intense restriction of the arteries leading to the fetus, causing a significant reduction in the flow of blood and oxygen.
  • This process increases the risk of fetal death.
mother s use of alcohol tobacco
Mother’s use of alcohol/tobacco
  • Increasing evidence suggests that even small amounts of alcohol and nicotine can disrupt the development of the fetus.
  • Alcohol: 1/750 born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS): below-average intelligence & sometimes mental retardation, delayed growth, facial deformities.
mother s use of alcohol tobacco30
Mother’s use of alcohol/tobacco
  • Even mothers who use smaller amounts of alcohol = fetal alcohol effects (FAE).
  • Just 2 drinks/day.
  • Reduces the oxygen and increases the carbon monoxide of the mother’s blood.
  • Fathers affect the prenatal environment.
  • Fathers-to-be should avoid smoking.
  • Also, a father’s use of alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine not only may lead to chromosomal damage.
  • Father’s age: Risk of miscarriage increases as the father’s age increases.
  • There is also an increased risk of neural tube defects, kidney problems, and Down Syndrome.
  • Increased risk of congenital heart defects.
  • Environmental toxins.