Evol Psyc -- Class Discussion Student Comments and Questions

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EVOL PSYCH Class Discussion Questions and Comments.

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WEEK 9: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS --- Cognition / Individuality / Abnormal ...add your contribution below. Separate it from the contributions of others by a couple of blank lines. Remember to click "Save" when you are done. In Gaulin Ch. 9 on Personality, I found it intriguing to learn about the differences in individuals. I never took Personality or Abnormal Psychology, so this was new material to me. I now realize how much we can learn based on peoples' individual differences, but I wonder why we have these differences in intelligence and personality. If there are traits of intelligence and personality that are so important, why don't we all have the same ones? Why don't we all have the same level of creativity, intelligence, physicality? -Coco Gutilla

In the power point slides on abnormal psychology, one slide described phobias as an intense, unrealistic or irrational fear. However, I do not understand why a lot of people fear spiders. We talked in class how they are very unlikely to hurt us, however people are still scared of them, including me. Is this an adaptation that has evolved from evolution? If not then what is it? If it is, how is it beneficial for survival to have a phobia of spiders, when clearly humans are stronger and can easily step and kill them. -Natalie Z

The book mentions a theory about postpartum depression that suggests that this form of depression may have evolved as a way of getting other people to invest more in the child. If the mother distanced herself from the child, it would force others to pick up the slack and allow her to save energy and resources. I’m not sure exactly what I think of this theory, but I nevertheless find it interesting. The theory makes me more curious about postpartum depression. For example, do women who suffer from postpartum depression experience the depression after every child’s birth? If not, what triggers it? Also, I wonder if postpartum depression is more common in societies in which child rearing is more communal. Of course, current societies are not the same as the EEA, but because the proposed purpose of postpartum depression depends on other people being willing to help raise a kid, perhaps it is more common in places where communal raising occurs more frequently. Finally, has postpartum depression (or related behaviors) been observed in chimps or bonobos? - Nathan Mitch

In the reading, our memory was discussed as being efficient in the way that it seems to remember certain things more than others. Some things are not even put in our memory to begin with, while others are only there for a short period of time. Concepts such as the practice, retention, and spacing effects have offered insight for students like us when trying to remember information that may not be so easily forged into our memory. Facts about many academic areas such as history or science were not things that needed to be remembered by our ancestors for survival, therefore these types of things are more difficult for us to remember effectively. However, I find it interesting that we can easily remember and regurgitate other types of information that do not appear to have any survival value at all, such as the words to a song we have heard maybe only one time. Is there some other type of selectivity that our brain uses in order to be able to recall information like this, such as an aspect of enjoyment or strong dislike which creates a more vivid and available memory? -Elise Sisson

In the Gaulin reading, Chapter eleven about abnormal psychology stated, “Through the years, the explanations have varied from demon possession to chemical imbalances in the brain.” In the past, people who were “abnormal” were thought of by some churches as being possessed by a demon. This made me think of Anneliese Michel, the woman whose life The Exorcism of Emily Rose was based on. I heard that Michel, at the time of her exorcisms, was refusing medical care, refusing to eat, and talking about her death being a form of atonement for other people's sins. This was seen as a major cause of her death. Moreover, they say that the priests involved were found guilty of negligent homicide because they knew she was not eating and not taking her medication. They told her not to take the medication, so that the exorcism will work. It makes me think about everyone else who was “exorcised” by priests. What if they were suffering from a mental disorder, but not given treatment because people thought of it as something supernatural? When someone asks priests to exorcise someone, should churches be forced to also bring in medical doctors and/or psychiatrists to observe that person? -3729

In chapter 9 of Gaulin when talking about intelligence, the reading says that it has been known that the more symmetrical someone's body is, the more intelligent they are. Through my life experiences I do not find this to be necessarily true, especially in academics. Later in the readings it talks about how there are different types of intelligence, at least seven. Could it be that a symmetrical person could be more intelligent in some of the seven categories rather than all of them? Or is it possible that they really are more intelligent overall than the rest of the population? 2180

Ch.7 explains the ideas behind altruism and reciprocity. We tend to refrain from being altruistic towards thoe who do not reciprocate the altruism. If we have an inherent mechanism to recognize who the cheaters are why is it that the cheater gene is still in existence? 8513

We learned that bipolar disorder is connected to creativity. Those bipolars who are creative are most productive during their manic phase. Creativity during manic phase probably helped our ancestors to survive because it allowed them to be more alert and be able to respond quickly to danger in the best way possible with their creativity. On the other hand, during their depressed phase, our ancestors would be more prone to danger because they loose their interest in normal activity. It seems like the cost (being prone to daner during depressed phase) outweighs the benefit of creativity since not every bipolar patient is creative geniuses. How did the genes for bipolar disorder then survive? Did the benefit of creativity outweigh the cost? 1957

In Chapter 9, “Individuality: Intelligence and Personality” under the subsection of Differences in Intelligence it was discussed that one of the reasons why variations exist in intelligence is because of developmental challenges. For example, if a mother has a disease like chicken pox or rubella during her pregnancy this can cause mental retardation. My mother had the chicken pox when she was pregnant of me and for obvious reasons the doctors advised her to have an abortion. She decided to go on with the pregnancy. I am sure that my mother’s case is an exception, but why was this an exception? What are the percentages of cases where the developing fetus does have developmental problems? Also, if evolution made mothers-to-be have certain food aversions for the protection of the fetus, why isn’t there an adaptation or a protection mechanism against this disease during pregnancy? Karina Muro

The book chapters give some evolutionary reasons for abnormal psychological adaptations (i.e. schizophrenia, depression, etc.). There is no one specific evolutionary answer as to why there are such behaviors that result, however they still are sustaining in today's world. Mutations are biological mistakes that occur somewhat often within the genes and cells of the body, they are an inevitable part of life. However, if the purpose of life, from an evolutionary standpoint, is reproduction and the genes that are passed on don't promote production, why wouldn't all of these abnormal and "unfit" genes just delete themselves and there would be little to no negative variation amongst people? -Jennifer Lambert

We learned in class that chimps have very good short term memories. In fact, there short term memories are even better than ours. We had once believed that our memories are a big part of what makes our brain capacities superior to that of monkeys. Now it seems as though the only thing we have over monkeys is language. However, I have seen videos of chimps and gorillas that have learned sign language from researchers. So some monkeys do have the ability to learn language. But what is it that we have that allowed us to develop languages. Many different languages developed all over the world, so it seems as though humans all have the innate ability to be able to create language. Do monkeys not have this ability? Is it possible that one day they will evolve to have this ability? One would think that since they have the ability to learn a language, someday they may develop the ability to create a language. -3969

Chapter 7 discuses how there is no agreed upon definition of intelligence. Modern intelligence tests measure abilities that predict how well one does in school, but there are many other abilities intelligence covers that are neglected by these modern tests. What other abilities should be measured on an intelligence test to make it a better rounded? To me this makes the idea of SAT (or any other intelligence test) prep courses sound expensive and almost ‘not worth it’ if the SAT doesn’t really measure intelligence, rather how well one can do on a test. 0169

In our last class, we discussed how even abnormal psychology may have adaptive reasons for existing. For example, one topic we discussed in particular was anxiety disorders and how they may actually be adaptive defenses. Today, some people have intense phobias of needles. The root of this phobia, which is probably the pain of having a sharp object stuck into your body, is understandable. Would you say that this is a more newly developed phobia compared to other phobias? If not, what exactly in our evolutionary past caused this phobia to exist? - Sunny Lee

In our last class, we discussed how cognition allows us to set up a artifical simulation before we engage in a behavior. Also, we examine how our cognitive systems need to get disengaged from our behavioral system during sleep. But, we explore instances when that disengagement does not happen, like sleep walking, talking, and even eating. Is there a function of of these actions while sleeping? How come the cognitive system and behavioral systems are not disengaged from one another? Are there any reasons or benefits for this disengagement, or is it just a problem with the cognitive systems? I feel that when we are sleeping and dreaming there need to be a disengagement because harm is a consequence of not being disengaged. So, if this behavior can be harmful, how has this evolved over time? -Lara Heisser

In chapter 7 Gaulin talks about altruism and reciprocity and that altruists must learn to not help those who aren’t altruists because it will inevitably waste their own resources without any return. For anyone it can be difficult to know the cheaters from altruists. I however wonder if sociopathy is an adaptation for cheaters so that their unmoral behavior goes undetected. According to Gaulin in chapter 11 sociopaths come across as charming and sociable, however, they lack emotions of shame, guilt and remorse (248). With them lacking these emotions, yet presenting themselves as such charmers it would be easy for them to manipulate the altruists for their personal gain. Overall, I am saying that I believe sociopathy is most likely an adaptation for individuals to use the altruists for their personal advantage and survival. --Julia Roberts

Women are twice as likely to experience depression as are men. The text cited Cynthia Perleau’s assertion that one reason women are more prone to depression than men is because women are the physically weaker sex. Therefore, they are more vulnerable in a situation that could cause them harm (Gaulin & McBurney). I wonder if women who would be considered “tom-boys,” or even women with longer ring than middle fingers are less likely to suffer from depression than the others of their sex. For that matter, I wonder if gay males are prone to more depression than gay females, being that the former is generally considered more feminine and therefore weaker than the latter. - Whitney Justice

It is interesting that 10% of Americans cannot read even though they go to school for so many years. Evidence shows that these children might have an easier time learning through a symbolic system such as the way Chinese people learn. Our brains are slowing evolving to meet the needs of specialized visualization so that we can read. Should we develop an English symbolic system to aid those who have difficulty reading? If language is somewhat made up, there should be no difference in making up a symbolic system so that everyone can easily understand things. -Nisha Patel

Sociopaths are described as lacking emotions and feelings. This could be an adaptation as a means for survival. A person lacking personal attachment to others will find it easier to stay away from a weak group, ensuring survival. I wonder if sociopathy is more common in an individualized society such as the United States. Is there less instances of sociopahty in societies that value community rather than individualism? Stephanie Riley

If a species has a nature that makes it better at learning certain things, most likely corresponding to its evolutionary fitness, how come some animals can quickly learn seemingly unrelated skills? (i.e. for dolphins to take instruction from humans and perform tricks, etc) Sylvia Joo

In their chapter on personality, Gaulin and McBurney comment that “the vast majority of everyday terms used to describe personality are clearly positive or negative.” In particular, I’ve noticed that the personality trait of high extraversion tends to have positive connotations while its opposite, lower levels of extraversion, or introversion, has negative connotations. I personally have experienced situations in which the personality trait of introversion is looked down upon and discussed as a fault, something that should be changed. This leads me to question: are some personality traits really better or worse, or are they simply just different? Are there positive or negative connotations for the other big 5 personality traits? Why or why not? How are these negative and positive connotations evolutionarily based? And does this connotation have an effect on the person being labeled with the negative personality trait? Should the individual try and change their personality? Or is it impossible to change and individuals should therefore simply accept their inferiority? -Shannon Gibbs

WEEK 6: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ...add your contribution below. Separate it from the contributions of others by a couple of blank lines. Remember to click "Save" when you are done.

I found it intriguing to read about depth perception in one eye. I am curious as to why some people who are blind in one eye have such good vision in the other eye. For people who were born blind in one eye, was their ability to have depth perception in just one eye an evolutionary trait that they were born with? What about for people who lost their vision over their lifespan or due to a surgery? How do those people adapt? And lastly, I wonder if people who had diseases such as Retina Blastoma end up having to work so hard to adapt to just having one eye, so they essentially end up having better vision than normal. Or, for those famous athletes who were blind in one eye… did they actually have an advantage over other people because their single eye became so strong? (4384)

When we enjoy ourselves too much with alcohol on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, some of us blackout and do not recall what happened that previous night. We supposedly do not fall asleep and lose consciousness. We know this because of all the embarrassing stories our friends tell us the next morning.Does this mean that we lose consciousness because we do not remember the night? Our consciousness is meant to allow us to deal with novel problems while routine ones are dealt with outside of consciousness. Does it mean that during this time period that we do not remember we lose consciousness and therefore cannot deal with novel problems while dealing with routine problems such as walking upright? Since scientist do not really understand how anesthesia knocks someone out, would it be possible if they studied the effects of too much alcohol they could possibly find an answer to this question? Mario Souza

If we as humans can only see the world through the means that we have been given, i.e. our human ears and eyes and the like, then how is it then possible for us to understand how other animals perceive the world. While I understand that we can learn their biology and understand the chemistry of their different sensory systems, how can we as humans even gain an understanding of that if we ourselves are unable to see or experience it for ourselves? (9171)

If our sensory perception is a way to lead our actions in an effort to promote our survival, why is it that there are so many different ways to see the world by different people? Shoudn’t there be a unique way that humans see the world, or a unique set of beliefs, if only the most effective genes are passed on? Why is it that genes, such as those that promote risk-taking or those that help us perceive in a faulty manner, have survived? 8513

In Chapter 4, Sensation and Perception, the congenital insensitivity to pain of F.C. was described. Based on this explanation I was wondering if it will be possible for this “disorder” to disappear soon since more often than not, the genes for this phenomenon are not being passed on. Likewise, the case of a human experiencing this has been found, but are there any cases were animals have also been known to have this “disorder? ” Karina Muro

In the chapter about perception, we read about the intricacies of the human’s sense of smell. People give off and detect pheromones that we are consciously unaware of. It was mentioned that women tend to like the smell that men with symmetrical faces gave off. We have already learned that women prefer the smell of men whose genes would best combine with their own to the create offspring with a high chance of survival and strong immune system. Although the way in which we are currently attracted to people has to do with signs of health and fertility, two questions come to mind. First, is there an evolutionary reason for facial symmetry to be so imperative that women can pick it up in the scent of their pheromones? And second, if women like the smell of men with facial symmetry, do they then in turn have a developed dislike for the smell of pheromones of men with non-symmetrical faces? Our senses allow us to perceive, which allows us to perform some sort of future action, so what is the benefit of being able to sense and perceive aspects of physical attraction that may not have anything to do with the paring of our genes for future offspring success?- Elise Sisson

If our perception interprets the world differently from what it really is, then is there any objective truth in the world? It seems that we all live in a “virtual reality” that slightly differs from each other. Even if we utilize scientific method in order to obtain objective evidence, we cannot know the complete truth because we only see limited reality. How do we actually know that the color red is actually red? What about abstract ideas such as the concepts of numbers? Does language unify our experiences? Yuki Sei

Consciousness as deemed in the readings isn't a very well known and researched field of study. Yet, from the few items that have been researched, a question has arisen about self-deception and its effects on humans for survival. Self-deception is not at all beneficial to the person and no adaptation advantage for the recipient. Knowing this and seeing a middle aged man in inappropriate attire isn't necessarily an evolutionary disadvantage. Given all the technology and resources today, why do people still harm their reproductive chances through self-deception. Is there any particular evolutionary advantage that it still exists? Jen Lambert

If perception is really an illusion, how do we really know anything about the world around us? How can we deem this adaptation as the truth, when maybe it is just something that has allowed us to survive over the years, but not necessarily truth? Or is there such thing as truth? How can we really study and run tests to investigate truth, if there may not be one? Everything has the bias of human knowledge and our virtual reality. Is the adaptation of our perceptions different then the adaptations of say a horse? Do they see the world as we do? And how will we ever know? Humans may live in a virtual reality that is similar, but what about other objects that encompass our world? Has everyone and everything’s perceptions evolved to be similar creating what we think is a universal understanding to our world, or do humans have it all wrong? Lara Heisser

The reading asserted that hearing is an adaptation. The range of frequencies we can hear is a consequence of selection. For example, elephants perceive infrasound and are thus able to communicate over great distances. Insects do not have ears at all because they communicate through chemical signals. My question is, why do has selection taken place at all for human hearing? It seems like being able to perceive infrasound would also benefit our ancestors. The hunters would be able to communicate over larger distances while hunting, or even check in with their mates who have stayed behind with the children. -Whitney Justice

It was interesting to read that self-deception can actually aid us more than it can harm us. We see ourselves as better than the average person according to the self-serving bias and this can essentially help with reproduction. The man or woman who thinks that they are better than the average person will gain a type of boost in the social world and may be “selected” based on their deception. It was also interesting to know that humans are not the only ones who are deceptive. According to the reading, plants and animals improve their fitness based on deceptive ways. Evolutionary speaking, how have we adapted physically to deceive other people or animals? Nisha Patel

The proposed explanations for why consciousness evolved really fascinated me. The idea that larger primates would have to be aware of their own weights is very simple but also very insightful. I also think it’s interesting that it is helpful to be self-conscious in groups so that we know what we can do to get others to help us. I wonder if orangutans, who are more solitary than other apes, have different levels of consciousness than chimps. They do not need to worry so much about how others view them or relate to them. I don’t know if this has been studied or how one would go about studying it, but I think it would be interesting to do cross-cultural studies on consciousness. In the “West,” people tend to be more individualistic. In the “East,” people tend to be more collectivistic. I wonder, though, if people in the East are actually more self-conscious, because they are more concerned with how they fit in with the group. People in the West, who may not care so much about how they fit in, might be so focused on their own lives that they are actually less aware of themselves. - Nathan Mitch

Before reading this chapter I had never heard of the idea that humans measure space using a rate of expansion. The reading says that the rate of expansion rapidly increases as we get closer to an object. But the reading goes on to say that drivers and pilots maintain a constant rate of expansion. Why is there a difference and what causes the difference? Do we have control over when the rate of expansion increases and when it remains constant, or is this innate? And if they are innate, what are the different survival needs aided by the increased rate of expansion compared to the constant rate of expansion. I guess what I am saying is that I am curious about finding out more about the idea of rate of expansion and how it works. -Shannon Gibbs

WEEK 6: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ...add your contribution below. Separate it from the contributions of others by a couple of blank lines. Remember to click "Save" when you are done.

In one of the Gaulin readings, consciousness is defined through three different actions: wakefulness, voluntary action, and awareness. I understand why they interpret consciousness in these ways, but I wonder about certain instances where it is hard to decide whether decisions were being made consciously. When a person drinks too much alcohol and blacks out they cannot recall any memories of what they did during the time of the blackout. Yet, they are still awake and making decisions. Their actions are voluntary, and they are aware (at the time) of these actions. But are they really consciously aware of the decisions that they make at the time of the blackout, and if they cannot recall any of their actions when they are once again sober, can they really be considered conscious at the time? Stephanie Riley

This topic on consciousness and perception has really left my mind boggled. I understand that consciousness is currently defined into three different categories, wakefulness, voluntary actions, and awareness. I understand that perception is currently defined as how we view the world. However, what if in reality our brains are tricking us. What if what we believe being awake is not this conscious state we think it is, but really it is an unconscious state. What if sleeping was really the time when we are conscious. What if the real world is when we are sleeping, and when we think we are awake we are really in a virtual world of a dream, thinking about things we wish we did and had. So basically what if sleep is the real world and being awake is our fantasy world. Natalie Z

In class, we talked about how we cannot really understand consciousness right now. For example, we do not know how anesthesia works, and therefore we do not know what allows consciousness to work and how we prohibit it from working. If this is true, what is the real difference between consciousness and dreams? During a dream, we often think it is very real, even if things are not as we expect them to be. Perhaps you believe you are in your house, but it does not look like your house. Something in your dream is telling you it is your house even though nothing there resembles your real house. Despite this, the dream can still feel so real. Even we cannot distinguish between actual consciousness and dreams. Is there anything in the body that distinguishes the two? Or is a dream just our minds’ alternate reality? Lauren Anderson 3969

In our last class, we recognized that some still images seem like they are actually moving when we look at them. Particularly, certain kinds of patterns trick our vision. Maybe, this is some sort of adaptation. If so, what kinds of events or activities in our human past lead to this adaptation? Also, why is that some visual patterns trick us and others don’t? - Sunny Lee

In the sensation and perception chapter says that “processing sensory information and that the brain consumes roughly 25 percent of our metabolic resources,” (83). I am curious if this number is the same for an individual who is lacking a sense, for example a blind person. Do they use as much metabolic processing energy? Along with that I have always heard that if someone is missing one of their senses the rest compensate for the lack of that sense and work harder. Is this true, and if it is then would the 25% still be a fact number? Side note: When I was little we used to put salt blocks out in our backyard for the deer. I am now hoping we didn’t overdose them with salt! Yikes! --Julia Roberts

Chapter five of the Gaulin reading discusses consciousness and its three distinctions. They are consciousness as wakefulness, voluntary action, and awareness. I understand that when we are conscious, we are awake, aware of what we are doing, and do so on purpose or with intent. Therefore, we should take responsibility for our actions. Some people suffer from sleepwalking, during which a person walks or performs some other activity while sleeping. People report not being aware that they do this. There are stories of people raiding the fridge, walking around the house, and even committing crimes when they are sleepwalking. However, since they are sleeping, not aware of what they are doing, and are not doing so voluntarily, should they still be held accountable for their actions? -Francesca Gatuz

Consciousness is seemingly superfluous and redundant; in actuality, it does not appear to offer us anything more than what we already know. The Gaulin text further affirms that many times consciousness is not even necessary for voluntary action or learning, and is likely not a unified entity. Is consciousness, then, an adequate criterion for determining “humanity” or “personhood,” especially if it is a byproduct of lower level interactions (emergent properties theory)? What are the consequences of such a determination on the rights of the fetus and people in PVS? - Sylvia Joo

There are cases where awareness under anesthesia occurs, as in, the person is fully conscious and feels everything but cannot do anything about it. Can you think of any evolutionary adaptations that would make these people not be able to be anesthetized? (0169)

WEEK 4: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ...add your contribution below. Separate it from the contributions of others by a couple of blank lines. Remember to click "Save" when you are done. I found the evolution of sex differences very interesting. I think the hunting-gathering theories go hand in hand and are dependent of each other. Therefore, I believe the theories that are consistent with the belief that men and women were equally neederd and important in human survival. Men being responsible for hunting and women for gathering. My questionis, which came first? When were men and women first introduced to each other and therefore first attracted to each other for their opposite survival necessities? -Coco Gutilla

In class we discussed the red queen theory of mates choosing each other with gene combinations that could potentially produce the strongest and healthiest offspring. Such gene combinations would create strong immune systems and defenses against disease in order for genes to be continually passed on. Studies have been conducted to show that when women are presented shirts that contained sweat from different males, they almost always select the shirt with the most compatible genetic material to be the best smelling to them. It is apparent that this adaptation was used by our ancestors when choosing a mate. In the more modern era, both sexes tend to choose mates for different reasons. People choose to marry for reasons of convenience, class, family, attractiveness, liking, etc. If the pathogen sensitive matching for a strong genetic combination becomes less and less prevalent, will we eventually become a disease susceptible species, to the point where immune systems are significantly weakened? Or will we be forced to create another adaptation for our own health?- Elise Sisson

With food being so readily available, especially for us who are in America the land of plenty. What traits are expected to happen with evolution due to our lack of hunting and gathering. Also because the food is so available and we really have to put in no effort to gather it, will our body types change, as well as our need for calories and nutrition? And in this case wouldn't our nutrition needs decrease because we are not working out as much, and we are much lazier than our ancestors? However, we are eating a lot more! Overall, I really want to know what predictions are being made about how the human body will be evolving in this new world of plenty. I just see us evolving to look like the blobs from Wall-E. ---Julia Roberts

My question is in regard to the “Darwinian medicine” section. While I do understand how some of our bodies naturally evolved defense systems, such as fighting infection or fever, can be good things, I have learned in previous anatomy classes how some of these natural body defense systems can actually cause harm. Such as a fever that gets too high or something of the like. If this is true how can it be possible that a fever is a positive evolutionary response if it is in fact hurting our body. -joe svec

Under the food selection in humans section it mentions what we choose to eat and stay away from and why. For example, it mentions the emotion of disgust that is a hypothesized adaptation that serves as a defense against microbial attack, protecting people from the risk of disease that would cause them to die. Are humans ever going to adapt some sort of disgust from food that is unhealthy for us? Obesity is such a problem in America, often killing or making many lives unenjoyable. Will us humans ever adapt and be geared towards the healthy food that do not cause us to be obese? Or will this problem of glucose/sugar/fat continue to stay around? -Natalie Zepeda

According to the text, suicide seems to encompass an evolutionary purpose and explanation. Furthermore, the expanded teaching of evolution is increasingly becoming more popular in society and thus challenging the primitive thoughts of youth. Suicidal ideation not only spans from low self-esteem and outlook on life, but also rather has a more indirect rather unconscious side plan of the inability to reproduce and promote evolution. How does this then relate to adoption options and suicide? Furthermore, how does this relate to the LGBT communities and suicide? Can one ever be subconsciously fully satisfied even if the prospects can be variable for biological reproduction? Jennifer Lambert

During the explanation of The Provisioning Hypothesis it was stated that Hunting could provide a possible explanation for the sexual division of labor. Therefore, due to the male physical structure, males were the one’s suited for hunting and females did the gathering and cared for the young. As a result, our ancestors can possibly be the reason why we attribute different activities to the sexes. What if hunting was a method in which both males and females took part in, would we still have a division of labor in our modern society? My second question pertains to the fact that humans enjoy savanna environments. If it has been reported that humans recover quicker when they can view scenery with nature and trees outside their hospital windows, why have we not made an effort to provide these accommodations to our patients today? Could we be saving lives by changing our hospital’s structures? Karina Muro

While reading the Hunting Hypothesis a few aspects of the argument left me skeptical. I felt like the researchers were making inferences out of today’s human nature based on what seems like a stretch to confirm some evolutionary connection. Specifically, the provisioning hypothesis of the “man the hunter model” left me a little skeptical. They say that hunting is the explanation for the strong coalition between men, among other things. But how do we know for sure that women did not have any part of the hunting process? Even if it was just a small part, could this explain the differences between sexes according to the provisioning hypothesis. Maybe I am in agreement with the view that states that this hypothesis is bias to the male dominance ideology. Another question would be, what is this so-called male coalition, and how could the strong female coalition be explained? -Lara Heisser

The section entitled ‘adaptations to gathering and hunting: sex differences in specific spatial abilities’ explains how men and women differ in their spatial abilities. It tells us that men are better at mental rotation and navigational abilities, while women have better spatial location memory. This helped men with hunting and women with gathering. Do these adaptations still help us today? Do you think that slowly we will become equally good at both types of adaptations and have no sex difference in this area? Or do you think it is good that each sex specialize their adaptation so we each sex will be ‘extra’ good at either navigational abilities or spatial location? - Brittany Sutter

It is interesting to see how we unconsciously act during times of danger or fear. I have witnessed many people using most of the six functional defenses, but rarely the fight response. From a young age we are taught that fighting is never the answer, and from year to year I have witnessed as a coach of younger children that violent responses have steadily declined. In today's American society, the percentage of human's who are put into situations where fighting, one of the six functional defenses, is necessary is very low. Since,as a society, very few of us outside of soldiers and professional athletes use this fight response, will the adaptation eventually phase out? Do adaptations we have now ever fade out if we permanently don't use them anymore? Mario Souza

Under Darwinian Medicine section, it is said that humans have evolved natural defense mechanisms against diseases, such as fever and blood iron depletion. Nowadays, there are medications for number of diseases, physical and even mental disorders. Contrary to our hope, modern medicine actually hinders our natural defense mechanisms. If we had not developed these modern cures, would we have developed natural defense mechanisms against diseases other than fever and blood iron depletion? Yuki Sei

I think it is interesting how fevers are actually a natural defense mechanism for diseases. Usually when one has a fever, he or she usually takes medication to lower it. If we do continue to reduce our fevers through things such as aspirin, will we eventually adapt to this and lose the ability to raise our body temperatures? Before reading that fevers were actually helpful, I believed that they were more deadly. The community should be more educated about this fact and perhaps people will get rid of their illnesses at a faster pace. Also, if iron supplements increase the risk for infections, what do anemic people do? Instead of increasing the amount of iron we need in our bodies, should we consistently try to have the lowest amount of iron possible? At the same time however, lower amounts of iron may mean that one’s body is weaker and possibly more tired. -Nisha Patel

According to the Embryo Protection Hypothesis, pregnant women suffering from pregnancy sickness is an adaptation to prevent the ingestion of teratogens. Teratogens are toxins that may be harmful to the developing baby, so it makes sense that the mother carrying the baby will be averse to food that contain teratogins, and other harmful substances. When women do consume those foods, they tend to vomit, which prevents toxins from entering the mother’s bloodstream and reaching the child. However, this does not explain why some expecting fathers suffer from morning sickness, too. Is there evolutionary explanation for pregnancy sickness seen in expecting fathers? -Francesca Gatuz

Evolutionary psychology does not like to meddle in the affairs of religion or the supernatural, because they cannot be studied scientifically. However, there are still a lot of people who have reported seeing ghosts of humans, dogs, cats, and other species. Assuming that one day, science finds empirical evidence of spirits and reveals that becoming a spirit is actually a product of evolution, would you argue that it is an adaptation, an exaptation, a by-product, or random noise? Explain your argument. -Sunny Lee

According to the red queen theory of sexual reproduction, the reason there are two genders and they produce offspring together is to throw off the diseases and illnesses that plagued them. Their offspring will have half of both parents’ genes so they will be unique, and their immune system will be thrown off, thus enhancing the survival rate of the offspring. I wonder though, could our immune systems eventually become so strong that everyone will be immune from fatal diseases? And if this does occur, offspring will no longer need to be unique to throw off their immune systems; it will not be necessary for two parents to procreate. If this happens in the future, will males become extinct (they won’t serve a purpose any longer) or will the human race become one hybrid model? Stephanie Riley

The text explains that certain adaptations, such as morning sickness and food sensitivity, protect a pregnant woman and her baby. Is there an explanation for the ever common cravings that pregnant women get? And furthermore, there is an eating disorder, Pica, that causes pregnant women to crave non-edible things like paper, chalk, and clay. How has this eating disorder persisted through evolution, and is it an adaptation? -Whitney Justice

I’ve encountered discussions about the naturalistic fallacy and the moralistic fallacy on multiple occasions. From an academic standpoint, it is easy for me to understand why those methods of reasoning are flawed. However, the more I learn about human evolution, the harder it is for me to avoid being influenced by the naturalistic fallacy. I don’t mean that, upon learning about how murdering one’s rivals could be evolutionarily advantageous, I suddenly accept homicide as part of life. However, I think that our understanding of human nature from a scientific perspective should be in dialogue with our understanding of human nature from a philosophical or theological perspective. For example, the Church has long believed suicide to be a grave sin because it ruptures our relationships with God, with others, and with ourselves. Dante, for example, believed that suicide violated human nature because our nature is to want to live and be in God’s presence. Science does NOT tell us the opposite, that being suicidal is part of our nature, but it does introduce us to more factors that contribute to suicide. We now know about psychological disorders and, as the textbook points out, that “there are conditions that could select for psychological mechanisms that would prompt a person to commit suicide” (p 102). Science may only tell us what is, not what should be, but if our moral judgments are to be based at all on human nature, I think science should be part of the discussion. QUESTION: Should science, and evolutionary psychology in particular, have a role in determining our morals or in judging someone’s actions? - Nathan Mitch

I understand that the Red Queen theory of sexual reproduction is a possible explanation for the reason we sexually reproduce. However, why do we exclusively reproduce sexually, if many organisms are capable of reproducing both sexually and asexually? Especially since other organisms have developed other defenses against pathogens besides shuffling their genes around, why can’t we do it too? Given the enormous costs of sexual reproduction, it seems that it is not simply enough to blame it on pathogens. -Sylvia Joo

I don’t understand the provisioning hypothesis; or rather I don’t understand how it is connected to parental investment in males. This feels like a case of description without explanation. Yes, meat is more economic and can easily be transported back to the home to feed the young, but why? Why do the males bother to bring it back to the young? Are they arguing that the male carnivore parent is more involved than non-carnivore males because it’s easier to be invested when they can provide meat, that they are more invested because it takes less effort to be invested? So my question then is why does the hunting of meat lead mammal men to be more heavily invested in the well being of their children? How does it differ from those that don’t eat meat? -Shannon Gibbs

Our class discussions and readings lead to the conclusion that evolution is working for the good of the gene. However, in terms of sexual reproduction, it seems as though the gene is at a huge risk. As we discussed in class, sexual reproduction is costly for the organism. As a result of sexual reproduction, only 50% of the organism’s genes are passed down to its offspring. But it also seems as though sexual reproduction is costly for the gene. Although good genes increase an organism’s chance of survival and reproduction, thus increasing the likelihood that they will pass on their good genes, there are always going to be 50% of their genes that do not get passed to their offspring. Even a good gene is at the risk of chance simply not “choosing” that particular gene. Any particularly good gene may have a better chance of being passed on, but that does not necessarily mean that it will be passed on. Each offspring only has a 50% chance of obtaining the good gene, even though it is better for survival. Are chromosomes really split up at random? Or does the body recognize which genes are “good” and then favors these genes? It seems as though a good gene may be able to increase the survival of the organism housing it, but it cannot increase the chance of its own survival. -Lauren Anderson (3969)


While reading the Dawkin book, I felt somewhat confused about the purpose of his chapters. However, what I found of particular interest was how Dawkins approached the topic of how humans came to life. He mentioned a certain molecule as the “Replicator” and how this molecule was formed by accident. Personally, I believe that this statement could raise ethical issues because it implies that life on earth was merely an accident. I am not sure how well I understand that through mistakes evolution was possible. Since the beginning of life itself was a “mistake,” then is anything after that considered a mistake too? Karina Muro

In our last class, we discussed how on a purely biological level, the purpose of life is to reproduce. There have been arguments made against homosexuality, because of this reason. Some people think that if homosexuality does not result in reproduction, then people should not be homosexual. What do you think about this argument and do you think homosexuality may be some sort of evolutionary adaptation? If so, then how?

- Sunny Lee

As I was reading Dawkins, I was really interested in the breakdown of the DNA and how it’s structured in our bodies. The analogy he used with the bookshelf and volumes all made sense to me up until he started speaking about the alleles and sex chromosome strands. I got really confused when he made the analogy of loose-leaf pages, because I was under the assumption that there are two alleles of one chromosome strand, one from the mother and one from the father. Or am I assuming wrong? And as far as the sex chromosome strands, of the 23 chromosomes – does that only have one allele in each of these strands? If the loose leaf analogy could be explained further that’d be very helpful. -Lara Heisser

I found Dawkin’s book interesting and insightful. I never thought of genes in the way he describes them, as selfish or altruistic. I learned a lot of the specifics of biology and genetics that I never knew before. By his analogies, he clarified a lot of complex information for me. A lightbulb especially went of when he talked about “stability” as the key to Evolution and what sets apart the living from the non-living. I did not understand the concept of cistrons and how they differ from genes… help?? -Coco Gutilla Clearly, being an altruistic being has distinct and even more life threatening damages compared to individuals that conform within the means of evolutionary purpose (reproduction). Is there evolutionary support that benefits those who act in an altruistic manner to non-kin members? Furthermore, for thought, if there were less selfish species and more altruistic species what would be the advantages and disadvantages living in that world? Jennifer Lambert

I understand how the majority of the population has the desire to reproduce, and I am one of the minorities. However, I don’t understand why once a child is born do the parents, especially the mother feel the need to take care of this child for 18 years. As shown in the Onion clip, babies are frustrating, expensive and a lot of work, what keeps up loving and taking care of that child until they are developed and ready to be independent? Where is the evolutionary adaption to love no matter how hard it is? Also, why does it appear that a mother has more of a connection and a natural responsibility for the child over the father? --Julia Roberts

The dueling theories of evolution and creationism have been argued about for a very long time. And I understand that there are some people who assume that the two theories can co-exist without contradicting each other. But I still find evolution in contrast to creationism. Although the theory of evolution never states that God does not exist, the ideas in it do undermine God’s existence. Natural selection assumes that the species in the world came to be almost by accident. This contradicts the theory that God created all species with intention and takes away the importance and specialness of all of his creatures. I still don’t see how both of these theories can co-exist. Stephanie Riley

In chapter 2 of our Evolutionary Psychology textbook, author David M. Buss compares the differences of males and females. He says that when analyzing the two genders, males show evolved adaptations that are specific to increase their chances of paternity. One trait in specific discussed by Buss is male sexual jealousy. As he states, “Although both sexes are equally jealous overall, studies have shown that men’s jealousy, far more than women’s, is activated by signals of sexual infidelity…”(pg.57). Moreover, I wonder if this factors into why males seem to be much more competitive than females. This ideology can be observed in the article below:


I would hypothesize that the thought (maybe unconsciously) of losing to another male results in a feeling of inferiority. This further results into feelings of sexual infidelity in comparison to the other male(s), which can spark jealousy, frustration, anger, ect. Furthermore, because females don’t have this innate characteristic to assert a physical dominance over members of their own gender for mating purposes, it is less common to find a competitive drive that expands outside of the activity, as more commonly observed in males. This isn't to say that I believe females aren't competitive, but rather, I feel that when two males are competing against one another, biological factors play a larger influence in their competitive drive. -Austin Schwartz

Our readings and lecture mentioned parental investment in children. We talked about the costs of raising a child, and the hard work that comes along with it. I have friends whose parents are very involved in their lives, and continue to support them even now in college. However, I have other friends that had to take care of themselves growing up because their parents did not offer their emotional/financial support. My question is, what determines the level of parental investment? -Francesca Gatuz

Dawkins says that a fetus does not have the ability to think in a rational manner yet humans protect and value it more than a grown chimpanzee that can think rationally. This moral issue struck me because, as a Pro-Life supporter, I believe that a fetus does have much more value than a chimpanzee. The reason for my belief is that a fetus has the potential to grow into an intellectual human being. -Sandy Cornejo

In class and in our readings, we have learned about the adaptations that different species have encountered throughout time which have allowed them to survive. The question I pose is in regard to the human species and our current diet. Would it be more logical to assume that those who possess the genes that urge them to ingest overwhelming amounts of sugars/fats/oils will gradually die off? Or perhaps the human race with face a biological adaptation that will allow our bodies to either better digest and discard unnecessary food energy, or be able to take it all in and still remain healthy and fit? Obviously something is going to happen. -Elise Sisson

Cosmides and Tooby claim that our minds were designed for the stone age. They were not designed to master problems in modern America, but rather the daily life of our ancestors. They make a point to mention that although our minds are those of the stone age, that is not to say that our minds are not unsophisticated. I understand that our minds are not unsophisticated; the human mind is a highly complex thing that we still today do not fully grasp. However, I wonder if we will ever be able to fully grasp the ins and outs of the human mind, when we were not pre-wired to perform such complex mental processes. None of our ancestors in the stone age studied the mind like we do today. It seems like we would be much more successful if there was a way to study the brain without using our brains. It seems counterintuitive to think that we are capable of figuring out the human mind, merely by using our own brains. -Whitney Justice

Under Robert Triver’s seminal theories, he brings up the idea of parent-offspring conflict. If a parent has multiple children, the parent will invest resources on the younger child and try to wean the older children. The children in return will try to obtain a larger amount of their parents resources. I am an only child so I haven’t experienced this, but why is it that the younger child always gets more attention? Parents always say that there are no favorites, but from what I have seen the younger children always get away with more things even if they are only a few years apart. Is it an instinct for a parent to want to nurture his or her younger child more? What good does that do for the parent? -Nisha Patel

I understand that we cannot properly visualize the process of evolution because we think in terms of our individual ontogeny rather than the species phylogeny, and because of our limited lifespan. However, how much time does it actually take for a physical, cognitive, or behavioral adaptation to become part of the genes and integrated into a species? Does it depend on the type of adaptations, e.g. does it take less time for a physical adaptation to form than a cognitive adaptation? Are there a concrete number of years it takes for a cumulative step selection to be perfected? For our species, how long will it take for the “evolutionary lag” to catch up enough so it has become adapted to how humans live now? What will the future look like for our species, and how much time is it going to take to get there? - Sylvia Joo

Dawkins’ discussion of evolutionarily stable strategies reminded me of a book I was reading over the break, Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal, a primatologist. In the book, de Waal draws connections between human beings and chimpanzees and bonobos. De Waal, in his discussion of power, presents the example of some apes he observed for years. A colony had long been ruled by a chimp named Yeroen. As Yeroen grew older, another male – a very powerful one – named Luit overthrew him. Yeroen, very distressed by his loss of power, created an alliance with a third maled, Nikkie. Nikkie and Yeroen’s alliance allowed them to overthrow Luit, leaving Nikkie in charge and Yeroen second-in-command. Eventually the alliance fractured, allowing Luit to take over again. Nikkie and Yeroen then rebuilt their alliance and brutally killed Luit. After Luit’s death, however, Yeroen was no longer a necessary ally for Nikkie and was cast aside. (Later, Yeroen would form an alliance with another upstart, and the two would kill Nikkie). Yeroen showed a great ability to calculate the outcomes of battles and create alliances, but he also lacked the foresight to know that if he killed Luit, he would lose his value to his ally. I thought of this example because it demonstrated how complex conflict strategies can be. Although I buy into and appreciate Dawkins’ arguments about “if resident attack, if intruder flee” type strategies, it is very hard to comprehend the complex development of human and ape interactions. I also think it’s interesting that Yeroen’s lack of foresight is shared by humans, as we often are very shortsighted in our aims. Shortsightedness seems acceptable in organisms because they only need enough time to reproduce, at which point the genes will be passed down. - Nathan Mitch

Triver’s theory of parental investment states that the more an organism invests in reproduction, the more it has to lose by making a bad mate choice. This has been proven empirically in a variety of species including our own. In modern society, a male cannot impregnate and be worry free about her. He now needs to financially take care of this child and the mother of the child, regardless if he cares for his offspring or not. It is obvious that a woman invests more in reproduction than a man does physically, but will these relatively new social pressures cause men to start becoming more discriminating in selecting a mate? Will societies attempt to equalize the burden of having children evolutionarily change the way men are currently wired? Will it begin to make woman less choosy since they will now have more resources to support their offspring? -Mario Souza

Due to the “evolutionary lag,” our behavioral and cognitive traits are still more adaptive for the environmental demands of our ancestors than our current environmental demands. Our ancestors obtained sugar from fruits that are available only for a limited time during the year. Such an environment resulted in our adaptive behavior to store sugar in our body. Therefore, we tend to consume more sugar than our body really needs. As the environmental demands change, we are evolving to adapt new traits. In the future, what kind of new traits would human beings adapt? (Would technological advancements result in new adaptive traits?) -Yuki Sei

A part of the reading that I found both interesting and humorous at the same time was when Dawkins was explaining selfish behavior of individual animals. He talked about how blackheaded gulls eat their neighbors young, or how praying mantises females will bite the head off of a male during copulation if he’s not careful, or how none of the emperor penguins want to jump down to the water first in case there is a seal. Dawkins certainly gets his point across that individuals are selfish. This segment changed my perception on evolution a bit. I had always thought it was for the ‘good of the species’ rather than just the good of the tiny little gene. The idea that the gene is fighting for survival, not just the genes vehicle, and not just the species is a fascinating way of looking at evolution. 0169

In the very beginning of the book, Dawkins makes a point about morality and generosity and how these things can occur despite the selfish gene. He claims that we are born selfish, but that that does not mean that we should not strive to be altruistic. This reminded me of a debate that was brought up in Social Psychology of whether or not there is such true altruism. Can any act be purely selfless, to give without getting anything in return, or more, to give at risk to yourself? Some would argue that true altruism cannot exist, that the giver always receives something in return, even if they are unconscious of the benefit they reap, such as a good feeling about yourself you might get from helping someone in need. One argument that has been discussed is that the closest thing to true altruism comes from the experience of empathy. They argue that true altruism can occur when an individual does something for another individual because he empathizes with him, has been in/can imagine himself in the same situation. I am curious where the idea of empathy would fit in with Dawkins’ theories of altruism and the selfish gene. -Shannon Gibbs

In chapter 2 of our textbook, Evolutionary Psychology, Buss talks about how sexual jealousy seems to be a result of our ancestors being unfaithful to their mates. Historically, this provides evidence that we were not a monogamous species. Does this then therefore mean we are not meant to be monogamous? Is monogamy against our nature? If our ancestors had to worry so much about infidelity, then wouldn’t that naturally mean that we were usually unfaithful? This jealousy that both men and women possess gives us the feeling that we want monogamy. However, evolution seems to be telling us that we are not meant for monogamy. Marriage is indeed a man made institution. We have come to widely accept monogamy and look down upon infidelity. Disliking infidelity seems to be a product of our evolution, but monogamy is not. For if it was the case that we were engineered for monogamy, we would not have a need for jealousy. We would simply know our partner was faithful because they too would desire monogamy. Clearly this is not the case, and that seems to suggest that we are not meant to be monogamous. (3969)