Module 8: Behavior Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology

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behavior genetics
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the study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior (weighing the effects and interplay of heredity and environment)
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environment
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every non-genetic influence, from prenatal nutrition to the people and things around us; this triggers gene activity
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chromosomes
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threadlike structures made of DNA molecules
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DNA
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deoxyribonucleic acid; molecules that contain our genetic information
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genes
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the biochemical units of heredity that make up the chromosomes; a segment of DNA capable of synthesizing a protein; they are self-regulating
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identical twins
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twins who develop from a single fertilized egg; these twins are genetically identical
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fraternal twins
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twins who develop from separate fertilized eggs; they are genetically no more similar than ordinary siblings
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genetic relatives
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biological parents and siblings
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environmental relatives
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adoptive parents and siblings
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temperament
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emotional excitability or a person’s characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity (e.g. difficult, easy, slow-to-warm-up); identical twins have more similar temperaments; temperament also provides building blocks for our enduring personality
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interaction
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the interplay that occurs when the effect of one factor (such as environment) depends on another factor (such as heredity)
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selection effect
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the principle that as we grow older we select environments well suited to our natures
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evolutionary psychology
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the study of the roots of behavior and mental processes using the principles of natural selection; these psychologists focus mostly on what makes us as humans so much alike
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natural selection
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Charles Darwin’s famous principle that says among the range of inherited trait variations, those that lead to increased reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations
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mutations
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random errors in gene replication
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genome
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our common genetic profile
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second Darwinian revolution
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the application of evolutionary principles to psychology
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gender
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in psychology, the biologically and socially influenced characteristics by which people define male and female

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