PS490-6-AU-CO:
Evolution and Behaviour

The details
2020/21
Psychology
Colchester Campus
Autumn
Undergraduate: Level 6
Current
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
15
04 June 2020

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

(none)

Module description

This module will introduce the key concepts of evolutionary theory as pertaining to animal behaviour and human psychology, and will engage with current literature in this rapidly advancing area of science. It will address our understanding of the relevance of evolution to the scientific study of human behaviour and cognition. You'll also identify the basic concepts and frameworks that underlie evolutionary approaches to behaviour and psychology, as well as the major findings and fields within animal behaviour and evolutionary psychology.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to introduce students at final-year level to the key concepts of evolutionary theory as pertaining to animal behaviour and human psychology, and engaging them with current literature in this rapidly advancing area of science.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

Understand the relevance of evolution to the scientific study of animal (including human) behaviour and cognition
Identify the basic concepts and frameworks that underlie evolutionary approaches to behaviour
Identify major findings and fields within animal behaviour and evolutionary psychology

Assessment by exam will assess all outcomes.


Module information

Lecture 1 & 2: Introduction to evolutionary theory - What is evolution, 4 evolutionary forces, components of natural selection, levels of explanation (proximate v ultimate), relative v absolute fitness, human origins, adaptations, Tinbergen's four questions.

Lecture 3 & 4: Intimate relationships - Mate choice, sexual selection, mating strategies, costly signalling, fitness indicators.

Lecture 5 & 6: Cognition - Reasoning, learning, language, problem-solving, EEA, theory of mind, Social Brain Hypothesis, intelligence, runaway brain, language, creativity & art.

Lecture 7 & 8: Parenting and kinship - Parental investment, conflict between the sexes, inclusive fitness, kinship, incest avoidance and Westermarck effect.

Lecture 9 & 10: Personality and Individual differences - Social niches, polymorphisms, developmental plasticity, heritability, behavioural genetics, frequency-dependent selection, evolutionary game theory, tit-for-tat and related forms, birth order.

Lecture 11 & 12: Cooperation and altruism - Levels of selection, multilevel selection, reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, strong reciprocity, costly signalling theory, social exchange, cheater detection, evolutionary game theory.

Lecture 13 & 14: Emotions - Role of emotions, emotions & cognition, disease & disgust, incest & disgust, depression, jealousy.

Lecture 15 & 16: Aggression, violence, warfare and terrorism - Status, prestige, and dominance hierarchies, relatedness and aggression, sex differences in aggression, group conflicts, territoriality, reconciliation.

Lecture 17 & 18: Darwin medicine - Evolution and health, mismatch between environment and us, evolution of virulence & how humans affect this, pregnancy sickness, how humans interfere with evolution's hard work - Fever & Iron supplements.

Lecture 19 & 20: Culture - Nature/nurture, gene-environment interactions, cultural evolution, human behavioural ecology, cultural capacity as a trait.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will consist of 20 lectures of 1 hour each and carries 15 credits. There will be online support via Moodle. 1. The theory of evolution. Genetics. The Modern Synthesis. 2. Classic Ethology. The Selfish Gene. 3. Optimality. Game theory. 4. Frequency dependent selection. Kin recognition. 5. Human intimate relationships 6. Human cognition 7. Parenting and kinship in humans 8. Cooperation and altruism in humans 9. Darwinian medicine 10. Criticisms of applying evolution to animal and human behaviour

Bibliography*

This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   MCQ Test    83.333% 
Coursework   Online Participation on Moodle    16.666% 
Exam  120 minutes during January (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
5% 95%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
5% 95%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Rick O'Gorman, email: rogorman@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Rick O'Gorman
email: rogorman@essex.ac.uk

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
No

External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 24 hours, 21 (87.5%) hours available to students:
3 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).

 

Further information
Psychology

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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