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EvoPsych - Psych 411 Evolutionary Psychology Evolutionary...

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Psych 411: Evolutionary Psychology 1/14/08 Evolutionary Psychology:  the application of the principles of evolutionary biology to  understanding human behavior. Some Questions We Will Address: How come our brains are so big? What sorts of reasoning problems are easy for people to do and what sorts of problems are  difficult for people to do? What role do emotions have in human behavior? Why do humans reproduce sexually? What do people look for in choosing a marriage partner?  How do good-looking people differ from unattractive people? Why are men larger than women? Why is there thrusting during sex? Why do women have orgasms? Why do people have different personalities? Why do people produce art? Why are music composers mostly men? Why are people afraid of the things they are afraid of? Ethics? Controversial: Differences between men and women (ex: “innate differences between men and  women’s math ability”) 1-16-08 Evolutionary Theory: Given the chemical makeup of the earth’s surface amino acids (protein molecules) likely formed  in the oceans.  Evolutionary Theory presumes that at some point, a replicator consisting of a chain of amino  acids was formed by accident. This replicator was able to make copies of itself. The copying of the replicator is unlikely to be perfect.  Mistakes will occur during the copying  process (mutations), to create new replicator molecules. Over time, replicator molecules would compete with one another for building blocks, and more  efficient replicators would be expected to increase in the population. Life forms are, in essence, robots that replicator molecules use to reproduce themselves and to 
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protect themselves from other molecules. Evolutionary theory regards the purpose of life, including human life, as simply a means of  helping these replicators make copies of themselves. Gene:  a section of genetic material that performs a specific function for the organism. Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection:  Children inherit characteristics from their parents.  Some of these inherited characteristics will help some organisms survive longer than others and  therefore reproduce. Genes coding for characteristics that enhance survival will therefore tend to increase in the  population over time. Darwin’s theory of Sexual Selection:  Children inherit characteristics from their parents.  Some of these inherited characteristics will help some organisms attract more mates than others.
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