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BIOLOGICAL

/EVOLUTIONARY
APPROACH
BY
Law Tyng Tyng
Saravina Binti Faizal
Mastura Binti Ariffin
Helen Thomas

OVERVIEW OF EACH
APPROACH

Biological
: Focuses primarily on the
activities of the nervous system,
the brain, hormones, and
genetics
Evolutionary
: Investigates how primal survival
instincts can influence behavior

THE EVOLUTIONARY
APPROACH
FUNCTIONALISM
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
THE INFLUENCE OF CHARLES
DARWIN

William James (18421910) was both a


doctor and an early psychologist. James
was the founder of the psychological school
of thought known as functionalism, which
focuses on how behavior helps individuals
adapt to the demands placed upon them by
their environments.
Functionalists examine mental processes in
order to find out why we do what we do.
William James was dramatically influenced
by the work of Charles Darwin. Darwin
believed that all forms of life including
humans had evolved from earlier life

NATURAL SELECTION
An evolutionary process in which
individuals of a species that are
best adapted to their environments
are the ones most likely to survive;
they then pass on these traits to
their offspring

According to the theory of natural selection,


some members of a species adapt better to
their environments, and thus are more likely to
live long enough to reproduce. Their offspring
then inherits their parents survival traits.
Eventually, the species becomes dominated by
those members that possess the most adaptive
traits. When changes do come (environmental
or otherwise), those best adapted will survive
and the others will die out. Natural selection
has also been called survival of the fittest.

KEY POINTS IN THE


EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH
The adaptive value of behavior
The biological mechanisms that make it
possible
The environmental conditions that either
encourage or discourage behavior

THE ADAPTIVE VALUE

Evolutionary psychology examines behaviors


in terms of their adaptive value for a species
over the course of many generations

AN EXAMPLE FROM THE


EVOLUTIONARY
PERSPECTIVE
Male vs.
Female:
differences in
visual-spatial
ability
Hunting vs.
gathering

On the average, males tend to perform


a little better than females on visualspatial tasks that require mentally
rotating images, like map reading and
working through a maze (Silverman &
Eals, 1992).
The evolutionary perspective explains
this difference by asserting that aspects
relating to spatial ability would have
facilitated skills like hunting, which has
largely been a task historically assumed
by males.
Following this logic, women should
perform better than men on tasks that
involve spatial skills similar to those that

THE BIOLOGICAL
APPROACH
Behavior and mental
processes are largely
shaped by biological
processes
It is not identified with
any single contributor

The biological approach to psychology


investigates the relationships between
physiology, behavior, and mental
processes.
Many neuroscientists have contributed to
this field, but it is not usually identified
with any single person. The biological
approach gained momentum in the 1950s
and is still going strong today. Sixty years
ago, the psychodynamic approach was in
favor.
Today, psychologists often look for
biological explanations for behavior.

THE BIOLOGICAL FOCUS


The brain and central
nervous system
Sensation and
perception
Autonomic nervous
system
Endocrine system
Heredity and
genetics

The biological approach focuses on the


central nervous system, the peripheral
nervous system, and the autonomic
nervous system. It also looks carefully at
the significance of brain chemistry, body
chemistry, and the endocrine system.
Finally, the biological approach considers
the influence of genetics and heredity.
Note: The drawing in this slide shows a
synapse, the space between the neurons in
the brain. The little dots represent
neurotransmitters sending messages to the

BIOLOGICAL FOCUS
(CONT.)
The physiological basis

of how we learn and


remember
The sleep-wake cycle
Motivation and emotion
Understanding the
physical bases of
mental illnesses such
as depression and
schizophrenia

THE PIONEERING WORK OF


EYSENCK
In the 1960s Eysenck introduced the idea
that biological makeup, and not parental
child-raising methods or other
environmental factors determine our
personality.
Using factor-analysis, he identified 3
personality Super-Traits: Extraversionintroversion, neuroticism (emotional
instability), and psychoticism (egocentric
and aggressive, impersonal).

STRUCTURE OF
SUPERTRAITS

From a specific response, to a


habitual response, to a trait, to a
Super-Trait.
Eysenck noted stability of these
dimensions over time, their similar
cross-cultural manifestations, and
kinship studies (run in families)
Environmental factors play a role in
the expression of the inborn
personality tendencies.

EXTRAVERSION-INTROVERSION
Eysenck was especially interested in this
dimension
Originally he suggested that introverts and
extraverts differ in terms of their cortical
arousal (extraverted were under-aroused and
thus seek stimulation)
Studies did not find differences between the
two tendencies while measures of brain
activity in a resting state were taken
Currently, researchers describe the Ex.-Int.
differences in terms of sensitivity to

SENSITIVITY TO STIMULATION

See the difference between the two little girls?

TEMPERAMENT: YOUR STYLE OF


RESPONDING TO THE WORLD
Temperaments are inborn (inherited)
general dispositions that are regarded as
the basis for later development of more
specific traits.
Buss and Plomin identified 3
temperamental dimensions: emotionality,
activity, and sociability
Thomas and Chess identified 9 dimensions
Examples: quality of mood, intensity of
reaction, adapting to novel situations, etc
Effortful control- emotional selfregulation, is currently regarded as an

PLOMIN AND BUSS MODEL:


EMOTIONALITY
Intensity of reactivity to life
situations

PLOMIN AND BUSS MODEL:


SOCIABILITY

PLOMIN AND BUSS MODEL:


ACTIVITY LEVEL

TEMPERAMENT AND THE


ENVIRONMENT
In a sense, the temperament creates
the environment:
We actively search for environments
that are compatible with our innate
tendencies
For example, an adventurous child
does not wait for adventures to come
his/her way, but actively seekout/create such situations

People react to us on the basis of our


temperament
For example: a cheerful, easy-going
person elicits different responses
from the environment as compared
to a whining, negative child
Our early environment is actually
created by the genes of our parents.

Our Temperament Evokes Reaction


When you smile the world is smiling
back at you

THE ROLE OF THE ENVIRONMENT


Environmental factors shape and
modify the expression of our innate
tendencies
For example: If you are an impulsive
person, as you go through life you
discover that your impulsivity only
hurts you
Eventually you learn to curtail your
impulsivity

INHIBITED VS. UNINHIBITED


CHILDREN
Inhibited (shy) children were studied
extensively by Jerome Kagan and
Nathan Fox
They identified the physiology
underlying shyness (identified in very
young babies):
Higher activity in the right
hemisphere
Higher production of cortisol (the
stress hormone)
High, stable heart rate

WILL THE SHY CHILD GROW UP TO


BECOME A SHY ADULT?
In most cases yet
There will be some
modifications

INHIBITED VS. UNINHIBITED


CHILDREN

Inhibited are gentle, monitored, restrained


Anxious in new situations
Uninhibited feel at ease in new situations
Inherited biological temperament
Differ in body-built, prone to allergies,
even eye-color (blue)
In early infancy- irritability, sleep
disturbances, constipation, increased
heart-rate and pupil dilation

SHYNESS
Shyness is an inborn tendency but
can be modified by the environment

GOODNESS OF FIT
The term refers to the ideal situation,
when we, social agents around the
child, recognize the childs
temperament and pattern our
treatment of the child accordingly.
For example, if you have a shy child,
you gradually expose the child to
novel situations, support the child,
not pushing the child.

STRENGTHS AND CRITICISM


Bridge between personality and biology
Understanding the role of genetics in
human behavior and being realistic about
the feasibility of behavior change
Based on research
But- Evolutionary concepts cannot be
directly tested
Lack of agreement about the number of
temperament dimensions and their
definition