Prologue: the Story of Psychology



Chapter 4: Nature, Nurture, and Human Diversity

At what age do we begin fearing strangers? Name at least 3 universal behaviors of humans.

What is meant by the idea of “environmental influence.”


1: What are genes, and how do behavior geneticists explain our individual differences?

Genes: Our Codes for Life

Describe the book analogy Myers uses for chromosomes, DNA, and genes. How many genes do you have? How does the environment affect these genes?

How alike are we compared to chimps in terms of DNA? Do the differences that do exist matter? Why/how is it both wrong and right to say that height or personality traits are “controlled” by genes.

Twin and Adoption Studies

Why can’t we conduct an actual experiment of environment vs. heredity using humans?

Identical vs. Fraternal Twins

Why are identical twins genetically identical? What are the 2 qualifications to this?

Compare fraternal twins’ genetic similarity to regular siblings’ genetic similarity. Why?

Which type are the Olsen twins? If you didn’t answer it specifically above, what does it mean biologically to be “fraternal?”

Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease:

-  if 1 identical twin has it, other twin’s chance is ______%

-  if 1 fraternal twin has it, other twin’s chance is ______%

Risk of Divorce

-  if 1 identical twin has been divorced, other twin’s chance is ______%

-  if 1 fraternal twin has been divorced, other twin’s chance is ______%

There’s obviously no “divorce” gene, so how could genes be the explanation for what you’re reading about the difference in divorce rates?

Separated Twins

Who studied the Jim twins, what college, and which side of the Nature v. Nurture debate was supported by the study?

What other types of similarities have Bouchard et al. found (1990) in separated twins?

Biological vs. Adoptive Relatives

What question do adoption studies allow us to ask?

What’s the “stunning finding” concerning personalities of people who grow up together? Explain hypotheses as to why. What do parents influence in their children? What traits do adoptive parents seemingly give to their adopted children?

Temperament and Heredity

What does temperament allow us to predict about someone in the future?

2: What is heritability, and how does it relate to individuals and groups?

Define heritability using the book’s definition. After reading this section, come back and put it in your words.

What doesn’t heritability mean?

Describe Mark Twain’s boys in barrels example and its lesson.

Group Differences

Why are we taller and heavier as humans now than a century ago? Are height and weight heritabilities high or low? So, what exactly is heritability??? Be able to explain in your words!!

Nature and Nurture

What does it mean to say that genes are “self-regulating?” Explain the breastmilk example and then describe one more of your choice from the book.

Gene-Environment Interaction

Describe on of the book’s examples of this interaction.

The New Frontier: Molecular Genetics

3: What is the promise of molecular genetics research?

What’s the goal of molecular genetics?

What psychological disorders can we test for high risk? What is the potential risk in making such tests readily available?


4: How do evolutionary psychologists use natural selection to explain behavior tendencies?

How are evolutionary psychologists different from behavior geneticists?

Summarize/paraphrase Darwin’s main points of natural selection.

Natural Selection and Adaptation

What animal did Belyaev work with, what did he do to them, and how’d he do it?

Evolutionary Success Helps Explain Similarities

Read very carefully the first full paragraph on pg. 145. Do you comprehend the big idea!? If you do, explain why losing all people except the Icelanders or Kenyans would only minimally reduce the diversity of the human genome. If you don’t get it, keep reading/thinking until you get it.

Outdated Tendencies

Why do we like sweet food so much? Why hasn’t natural selection removed this preference from us?

Evolutionary Psychology Today

Pick one of the questions that are listed concerning what evolutionary psychologists study today. Answer the question using an evolutionary psychology perspective/explanation (give it a try!).

An Evolutionary Explanation of Human Sexuality

5: How might an evolutionary psychologist explain gender differences in mating preferences?

Gender Differences in Sexuality

Which gender seems to be more sexually inclined no matter what question you ask?

·  Casual sex: _____ % of males; _____ % of females

·  Ok with the idea of multiple partners: _____ % of males; _____ % of females

·  Are gay men more like males or females concerning how much they think about sex?

·  What type of males are most likely to engage in casual, impulsive sex?

·  Describe the design/results of the 1978 Florida State study.

·  What do men think when encountering casual conversations involving warm responses by a female?

Natural Selection and Mating Preferences

Explain how men and women’s mating preferences differ and why.

List some qualities of attractiveness from men’s perspective. Women’s.

Critiquing the Evolutionary Perspective

6: What are the key criticisms of evolutionary psychology?

Why is starting with an effect and working backward a problem?

Describe a social consequence of evolutionary psychology.


7: To what extent are our lives shaped by early stimulation, by parents, and by peers?

We aren’t blank slates, we are…

Parents and Early Experiences

Experience and Brain Development

Describe the experiment involving rats and varying types of environments. Results?

What is “handling” and what are its effects?

Describe the pruning process our brains go through and when/why this happens.

How Much Credit (or Blame) Do Parents Deserve?

Use “hindsight bias” from Ch 1 to explain why as a society put so much weight into what parents do as parents to their kids.

Do you blame your parents for any of your faults? Why? After reading this, why should you maybe reconsider this line of thinking.

Peer Influence

Summarize the conclusions of the bullets:

·  Preschoolers and food:

·  Children’s accents:

·  Teens and smoking:


8: How do cultural norms affect our behavior?

Define Culture. Name 1 culture you’re a part of and list a few qualities of that culture.

Variation Across Cultures

What are norms? Give 1 book example and give 1 unique norm.

What is personal space? Which cultures need less? More?

Anyone out there watch Seinfeld? Close talkers?

Variation Over Time

Give at least 2 American cultural changes over the last decade (yes, come up with these on your own!).

Culture and the Self

9: How do individualist and collectivist cultural influences affect people?

Where are individualistic cultures found? Collectivist? Give a few examples of the behavioral differences between people from these different types of cultures.

How do the cultures differ in how they use their languages? (bottom of 156) WHY do you think this difference exists?

Culture and Child-Rearing

How has the message we teach children changed in the last century?

Describe the differences in where children sleep.

Developmental Similarities Across Groups

Compare perceived differences to actual differences in personality traits across cultures.


How is gender different than biological sex?

Gender Similarities and Differences

10: What are some ways in which males and females tend to be alike and to differ?

Compare men and women’s self-esteem ratings.

Describe the following differences:

-  Age of puberty onset:

-  Life expectancy:

-  % body fat:

-  % body muscle:

-  Height:

-  Sexual arousal following orgasm:

-  Sense of smell for faint odors:

-  Emotional expression:

-  Get help from others:

-  Risk of depression and anxiety:

-  Risk of eating disorders:

-  Suicide:

-  Alcohol dependence:

-  Diagnosis of autism, color-blindness:

-  ADHD:

-  Anti-social personality disorder (sociopath):

Gender & Aggression

Men are generally considered more aggressive for what kind of aggression? Give 1 example of this. However, in what way might women actually be more aggressive?

Gender & Social Power

Provide several examples of why we agree that men are considered more socially dominant.

Gender & Social Connectedness

Describe gender differences in style of play. What is the male answer syndrome? Give the question they asked the participants.

Describe ways women are more interdependent than males.

Describe gender differences in religiosity.

When do these gender differences peak? When do they become more similar?

The Nature of Gender

11: How do nature and nurture together form our gender?

What is the biopsychosocial perspective?

Which parent determines your biological sex? Why/how? A very important single gene on the Y chromosome contain the instructions for producing what vitally important male hormone? Do females have this hormone? When does the development of male sex organs begin?

What important activity happens during the 4th and 5th prenatal months? Describe some of the actual differences that emerge as a result of this time period.

What happens when there is hormone malfunction (too much or too little hormone)?

What happened to Brenda Reimer? Does this suggest nature or nurture matters more for gender development?

The Nurture of Gender

Gender Roles

Give some personal examples of what you think of when you think of men and women’s gender roles.

Describe actual differences in work time and household/caregiving time.

What cultures offer the greatest gender equity? The least?

How many and which countries granted women’s suffrage (right to vote) by the year 1900?

Gender & Child-Rearing

What’s the difference between gender identity and gender typing?

What does social-learning theory predict about gender development?


Why has brute strength become less important in our society?

Are differences in gender roles converging or widening? Why/how?

What percent of U.S. adults, “do not believe in evolution’s role in ‘how human beings came to exist on Earth’?”

Why do you think people feared Newton’s explanation of the rainbow or Galileo’s claim that the Earth was revolved around the sun?

What is your opinion on evolution and natural selection? Do you believe Myers comparison of Darwin’s theory to Newton and Galileo? Will evolution and the creation of the universe and man through natural processes eventually be seen as common sense or not? I’m very interested to hear your intelligent thoughts on this!