Curriculum Guideline

Evolutionary Psychology

Effective Date:
Course
Discontinued
No
Course Code
PSYC 3385
Descriptive
Evolutionary Psychology
Department
Psychology
Faculty
Humanities & Social Sciences
Credits
3.00
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
PLAR
No
Semester Length
15
Max Class Size
35
Contact Hours
Lecture: 3 hours Tutorial: 1 hour
Method Of Instruction
Lecture
Tutorial
Methods Of Instruction

Regular classes 3 hours/week will include: 

  • Lecturing
  • Participating in class activities and demonstrations
  • Viewing of audiovisual material.

 

Tutorials 1 hour/week will allow for a seminar-style class environment and include:

  • Article readings
  • Presentations
  • Discussions. 
Course Description
Students are introduced to the study of behaviour and mental processes from an evolutionary perspective. The methods and research of evolutionary psychology will be emphasized. The course begins with a thorough overview of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the formation of adaptations. From there, various topics will be investigated including cooperation and altruism, competition and aggression, sexual selection and mating strategies, life histories and development, parental care and family relations, and culture.
Course Content

Introduction to Darwin – evolutionary theory, and evolutionary psychology.

Evolution – natural selection & genetics.

Adaptations – their nature and study.

Life history theory and game theory.

Sexual selection theory – mating strategies and attraction.

Inclusive fitness theory – altruism and conflict within families.

Cooperation among non-kin – reciprocal altruism theory and other explanations.

Aggression and warfare.

Evolution and culture, mismatch theory.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course the learner will be able to: 

  1. Describe the process of natural selection, including basic genetics and types of selection pressures.
  2. Distinguish between ultimate and proximate causation.
  3. Describe the characteristics of adaptations and be able to provide examples.
  4. Identify the assumptions of evolutionary psychology and be able to contrast it with other evolutionary perspectives.
  5. Explain the operation and outcomes of sexual selection.
  6. Discuss current research and theories on attraction and mating strategies.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of inclusive fitness theory, kin selection, and the evolution of nepotism.
  8. Give examples and discuss theories of both cooperation and conflict among kin.
  9. Discuss the theories of altruism and cooperation among non-kin, including reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity, group selection, commitment theory and others.
  10. Discuss the nature and functions of aggression and conflict.
  11. Describe the relationship between our evolved psychology and culture. 
  12. Discuss how the modern environment may produce mismatches and maladaptive behaviours.
Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be in accordance with Douglas College and Psychology Department policies. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

 

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

Test #1:                                 20%

Test #2:                                 20%

Final exam:                            25%

Group presentation:                 15%

Term paper:                          20%

Total                                   100%

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

Textbook(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

Buss, D. M. (2012).  Evolutionary psychology:  The new science of the mind (4th ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson Education.

Prerequisites