The Influence Of Genetics On Behavior

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Demetra Dokas

Psychology IB1


The Influence of Genetics on Behavior

In this essay I will explain to what extent genetics influence behavior. Human genetic information is stored in chromosomes, which are tightly wound strings of DNA present in every cell of the body. There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in human cells and each chromosome pair consists of one chromosome from each parent. Genes are thought to be responsible for the development of physical and behavioral characteristics. But psychologists now know that there are also environmental triggers, such as upbringing, childhood, or poverty, which influence behavior. Such studies are Heston’s study of schizophrenia, Bouchard and Mcgue’s study of IQ correlations,the Minnesota Twin study, Jahoda’s study of the self fulfilling prophecy, and Hutching and Mednick’s study on crime and others.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness. It most commonly features auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction. Heston(1966) conducted and adoption study and looked at the incidence of schizophrenia in children who lived in foster homes. He correlated this incidence with the diagnosis of schizophrenia in their biological mothers. The aim of the study was to see whether schizophrenia is genetic or not. Because of biological inheritance, he expected a higher incidence of schizophrenia among the adopted children of schizophrenic mothers. Heston found that over 10% of the adopted children with a family history of schizophrenia were later diagnosed with it. This is considered strong evidence that schizophrenia has a genetic component.

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There have been many debates about whether intelligence is genetic or a learned behavior. It is very difficult to locate the origin of intelligence and how it can be measured. To test whether intelligence is genetic or not, Bouchard and McGue (1981) conducted a study. They reviewed 111 studies of IQ correlations between siblings from research studies in intelligence from around the world. The researchers used identical twins that had been separated at birth for the study which means that participants had a 100% genetic relationship, but had grown up in different environments. They assumed that any similarity between the ...

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