Unit 5: Evolutionary and Behavioral Genetic Perspectives of Personality We will now examine different evolutionary and behavioral genetic theories of personality. These theories ask how we can explain the psychological mechanisms behind what defines “human nature” and the individual differences found among various traits. Over the past 20 years, these theories have influenced the field of personality research via (a) the robust findings that personality traits have a strong heritable component, and (b) their ability to explain the adaptive nature of individual differences among personality traits.
Unit 5 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 10 hours to complete.
☐ Subunit 5.1: 2 hours
☐ Subunit 5.2: 4 hours
☐ Subunit 5.3: 4 hours
Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Describe the important contributions of the biological/evolutionary perspective made to personality psychology.
- Identify the main findings in the applied area of research, which addresses the effects of biology/environment on such traits as impulse control and intelligence.
5.1 The Importance of Biology in Personality Psychology
- Reading: Google Scholar: Dr. David M. Buss’s (1990) "Towards a
Biologically Informed Psychology of Personality"
Links: Google Scholar: Dr. David M. Buss’s (1990) "Towards a
Biologically Informed Psychology of
Instructions: Please click on the hyperlink “[PDF] from utexas.edu” to download the PDF file of the article entitled “Towards a Biologically Informed Psychology of Personality.” Please read this article in its entirety.
5.1.1 Biological Approach to Human Nature
5.1.2 Human Genetic Variability
5.1.3 Identifying the Most Important Individual Differences
5.1.4 Adaption and Adjustment
5.1.5 Personality Types versus Personality Dimensions
5.1.6 The Psychophysiology of Personality
5.1.7 Psychological Mechanisms as Evolved Problem-Solving Strategies
5.2 Evolutionary Psychology
- Reading: University of California, Santa Barbara: Dr. Leda
Cosmides and Dr. John Tooby’s “Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer”
Link: University of California, Santa Barbara: Dr. Leda Cosmides and
Dr. John Tooby’s "Evolutionary Psychology: A
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this webpage to gain a better sense of the theoretical background and research findings in evolutionary psychology. As you are reading this section, please use the information presented in the previous reading for subunit 5.1 as a framework to reflect on the following question: How can evolutionary psychology inform personality psychology?
5.2.1 Principles of Evolutionary Psychology
5.2.2 Adaptationist Approach
5.2.3 Reasoning Instincts: An Example
5.2.4 Distinction from Behavioral Genetics
5.3 Behavioral Genetics Contribution to Personality Psychology
- Reading: Advancing Science Serving Society and the Hastings
Center: Catherine Baker’s Behavioral Genetics: “Chapters 1, 6, and
Link: Advancing Sciences Serving Society and the Hastings Center:
Catherine Baker’s Behavioral Genetics: “Chapters 1, 6, and
Instructions: Please click on the hyperlinks for each chapter on this webpage. Please read these chapters in their entirety. Chapter 1 will address the field of behavioral genetics. Chapter 6 will address how behavioral genetics helps explain the ability to control impulses (a trait-like characteristic). Chapter 7 will address how behavioral genetics helps explain the gene-environment interaction that contributes to intelligence, a cognitive ability often studied in personality psychology.
5.3.1 What Is Behavioral Genetics? 5.3.2 How Can Behavioral Genetics Help Explain Impulsivity and ADHD? 5.3.3 ADHD: Disorder or Trait? 5.3.4 Intelligence Testing and Behavioral Genetics 5.3.5 Predicting Individual Intelligence 5.3.6 Culture and Intelligence: Cautions and Explanations