AP_Unit 3C Genetics, Evolutionary Psychology, and Behaviour

Term Definition
Behaviour Genetics The study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behaviour and personality traits. Behaviour geneticists assess the relative effects of nature and nurture on individual differences.
Environment Every external influence, from prenatal nutrition to people and things around us.
Genes The biochemical units of heredity that make up the chromosomes. A segment of DNA capable of synthesizing a specific protein. Depending on certain environmental conditions, specific genes can be either active or inactive.
DNA A complex molecule containing genetic information.
Chromosomes The threadlike structures that contain genes. Chromosomes are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid and are located within human cells. A human sperm contains 23 chromosomes.
Genome The complete instructions for making an organism, consisting of all the genetic material in that organism’s chromosomes.
Identical Twins (Monozygotic Twins) Twins who develop from a single fertilized egg that splits in two, creating two genetically identical organisms.
Fraternal Twins (Dizygotic Twins) Twins who develop from separate fertilized eggs. They are genetically no closer than brothers and sisters, but they share a fetal environment.
Twin Studies Reveal the absolute and relative importance of environmental and genetic influences on individuals in a sample. Used to estimate trait heritability. Reveal personality, temperament, and intelligence are genetic.
Jim Twins Identical twins separated at birth and reunited 38 years later. Married women of the same name. Named their sons and dogs the same names. Identical twins separated at birth would most likely have similar personalities.
Molecular Genetics The subfield of biology that studies the molecular structure and function of genes. They use blood samples or cheek swabs to obtain DNA from the nucleus of a cell.
Heritability Refers to the extent to which trait differences among individuals are attributable to genetic variations. Accounts for variations among people, not in specific individuals. Heritable traits can be influenced by social environments.
Self-Regulation Genes respond to environmental conditions, reacting to different environmental contexts in different ways.
Interaction The interplay that occurs when the effect of one factor (such as environment) depends on another factor (such as heredity).
Epigenetics The study of environmental influences on gene expression that occur without a DNA change.
Evolutionary Psychology Studies the evolution of behaviour and the mind using principles of natural selection. Emphasize that environmentally adaptive behaviours are those that have promoted reproductive success.
Natural Selection The reproductive advantaged enjoyed by organisms best suited to a particular environment. Acts on populations.
Mutation A random error in gene replication
Adaptation An inherited physical or behavioural characteristic that increases an organism’s chance for survival. Our adaptive flexibility in responding to different environments contributes to our fitness which refers to our ability to survive and reproduce.
Selective Mating Desired traits or characteristics are mated in a systematic way such that those traits or characteristics have a higher likelihood of being transmitted to offspring and subsequent generations.

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