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Genetics, Evolution, and Personality POST

Genetics, Evolution, and Personality POST - The Inheritance...

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The Inheritance of Personality Behavioral Genetics July 22, 2009
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Agenda Genetics terms Heritability coefficients Methods in behavioral genetics research Gene-environment interactions What have we found about the genetic effects on personality?
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Instructional Objectives By the end of this lesson, students will be able to: Define the field of study known as behavioral genetics , and discuss some of the controversy surrounding its undertaking Calculate and interpret heritability coefficients using the twin study method Identify and describe the major methods used in behavioral genetics research Define and provide examples of gene-environment interactions Discuss some of the research findings pertaining to genetics and personality
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Genetics: Basic Terms DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) : substance carrying genetic information Gene : region of DNA molecules controlling a particular characteristic 99% of genes are the same in every member of our species Genes are located on 23 pairs of chromosomes Genome : the complete set of genes an organism possesses Zygote : fertilized egg Phenotype : expression of a certain characteristic Genotype : genes underlying the expressions of that characteristic (phenotype)
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Controversy Concern that findings from behavioral genetics will be used to further certain political agendas Concern that findings from behavioral genetics will be used to promote eugenics , whereby individuals with “undesirable” characteristics will be restricted in reproduction in favor of those with more “desired” characteristics
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Behavioral Genetics Behavioral genetics examines the ways in which genes can influence behavior Concentrates on individual differences (the 1% of genetic material that varies)
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Heritability coefficient Heritability coefficient : statistic reflecting the proportion of variation in the phenotype that is due to variation in the genotype, expressed as a percentage or as a number between 0 and 1 Calculated at the level of the population, not the individual
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What do heritabilities tell us? Genes matter Insight into etiology (causes) of traits Effects of the environment
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Methods in behavioral genetics research 1. family studies 2. twin studies 3. adoption studies 4. combination twin/adoption study
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Family studies Family studies correlate the degree of genetic relatedness among family members with degree of personality similarity If a personality characteristic is highly heritable, then family members with closer genetic relatedness will be more similar to each other on this characteristic than they are to other family members
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Family studies Degrees of genetic relatedness: Parents: usually none or minimal Parents and children: 50% Full siblings: 50% “Half” siblings: 25% Grandparents and grandchildren: 25% Uncles and aunts with nephews and nieces: 25% First cousins: 12.5%
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Twin studies Twin stats: 1 in 83 births is a twin
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