Behavioral Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology

Behavioral Genetics Methods


Methods Study models Characteristics Research focus Core concepts/notes
Twin studies Monozygotic/identical twins Identical genotypes; shared environment Relationships between heredity and experience Hereditability: an index of differences in people that can only be caused by genetic inheritance effects.
Adoption studies Adopted children Biological parents; adoptive parents Environmental impacts  
Family studies People in the same family Have the potential to share a trait Heredity impacts  
Genetic diseases Diseases including color-blindness, hemophilia, phenylketonuria (PKU), and Down syndrome Cause-and-effect evidence and effects of heredity The effects of genetics on schizophrenia, autism, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease Gene-environment interactions: PKU has genetic origin but can be controlled by a regulated diet


Evolutionary Psychology


Areas Focus Background Structures Concepts Features
Evolutionary psychology Studies the effects of genetic mutations and natural selection on behavior and mental functioning. The nervous system comes from gradual genetic change. The four lobes of the cerebral cortex: visual processing – back; judgment/forethought – front; body sensation – top; hearing – sides. Modules: Psychological mechanisms have been selected for survival and contributed to evolutionary fitness, the capability to produce offspring to spread and perpetuate genes. Human intelligence, language, and personality traits including determination were “selected” for the species to thrive.
Sociobiology Studies the effects of individual behaviors in communities and group behaviors on reproductive survival.       The involvement in certain social behaviors has genetic origins.
Sociocultural evolution Meme theory Thoughts and ideas can be transmitted from mind to mind, parallels to genetic evolution.   Memes: the units of sociocultural evolution processes Elements of thought and culture can be transmitted and altered over time.
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