Major Movements in Psychology

Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology

If our behavior is genetically determined, where does learning come in?

Both sociobiology and evolutionary psychology assume our behavior is grounded in our genetics. Genetics determine the range of possible behaviors, the parameters of our behavior. Much of our behavior, however, simply cannot develop without extensive training. For example, we cannot learn to read unless we are taught the necessary skills and unless we are exposed to reading materials. With the proper circumstances, our genetic make-up allows us to learn to read. In contrast, no amount of training will ever lead a cat, a dog, or a pigeon to read. Likewise, no amount of training will ever allow a human being to fly (without artificial support). Thus genetics determine the potentiality of our behavior but genetics alone cannot determine the specific outcomes for any given individual.


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