GEST3000 / GEST010 – Evolution and Human Behaviour
|Suggested Year of Study:||3-4|
Department of Psychology
|Medium of Instruction||English|
Whereas it is well accepted in biology that human bodies are products of natural selection, it is still controversial in the mainstream social sciences to link human behavior to evolution. This course takes an evolutionary approach to explore the ultimate question of why, but not just how, human beings and their social institutions behave and operate in the ways in which they do. The exploration is both macro and micro. The macro exploration starts with a distal look at the origins and evolution of our species that are delineated by the stories of the bones and genes. The macro examination also includes the evolution of different brain structures shared by all animals and of the neocortex very much monopolized by human beings. Another very much human unique evolution to be discussed is that of language. The ability to speak leads to the explosive development of human cultures that, as shown in another macro analysis of the course, have both facilitated and counteracted genetic evolution. Also discussed at the macro level, is the evolution of different mating systems practiced by other animals and how human mating systems shape and are being shaped by our social economic systems. In addition to these macro and historical analyses, this course also provides micro insight into individual human behaviors. These include how the human mind works and why it works in these ways, how and why human beings negotiate social contracts with conspecies, and how and why related individuals love and hate in resolving family conflict of interest. These micro discussions continue to focus on the ultimate question of why, but not just how, human beings and their social institutions behave and operate in the ways in which they do.
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. Explain the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in relation to human evolution, including the evolution of brain, the evolution of language, and the evolution of culture;
2. Describe natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection and their applications to the study of human behaviors in such domains as human cognition and brain functioning, social interaction and human group living, and life history and human development;
3. Analyze human behavior and mental processes, demonstrate reasonable skepticism and intellectual curiosity by asking questions about causes of various human behaviors and psychological and physiological phenomena but not to take for granted what others say about these issues;
4. Use the concepts, language and major theories of evolution to explain and analyze human behaviors and mental and physical states, while being able to tolerate ambiguity and realize that psychological explanations are often complex and tentative;
5. Reflect on their own and other’s behavior and mental processes and enhancement of their mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.