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Evolutionary Psychology of Morality, Heritability, Personality, Children’s Toys, and Generational

Part A: Evolutionary Psychology of Morality

Once you have finished watching the video and have read Chapter 3 in the Wade et al. textbook, answer the following questions:

1. What is the relevance of the non-human animal examples of cooperation that de Waal describes to our understanding of the evolution of human morality?

2. What is the evolutionary benefit to having empathy? Why did empathy evolve? Describe some situations in the ancestral world where having empathy would increase your survival or reproductive success?

3. How does the notion of mental modules discussed in Chapter 3 of the Wade et al. textbook relate to de Waal’s talk? Give a couple of examples.

4. The human potential for empathy seems to be universal. While not everyone is highly empathic, possessing a degree of empathy can be said to be “species-typical”. What would the consequences be for someone to have a total lack of empathy?

5. If you had to describe the features of morality without referring to any specific religious or legal requirements or prescriptions, what would your description contain?

In other words, if a sense of morality is universal, what are the basic “rules” that would apply regardless of your religion, ethnicity, etc.? How would this relate to individual or age differences in moral reasoning?

1. Why did the authors conduct a meta-analysis?

2. Do you think that the traits of neuroticism and extraversion could be considered mental modules, as described in Chapter 3 of the textbook? Explain your answer.

3. If the heritability of personality traits is .4 in the populations in which they were studied, would you expect those estimates to be different in populations that were not tested and which the authors suggest for follow-up research? Explain your answer.

4. The authors report that heritability estimates vary for different personality traits. Explain what that means.

5. What are three questions you are left with after doing the reading? Describe what you are unclear about, what you would like to know, and why it is important or how it relates to Chapter 3 of the textbook.

1. What is the age range of children for whom the toy was created, and how do you know? How much pleasure or interest do you think the child will have in playing with this toy? Explain your answer.

2. Describe the cognitive abilities and limitations of children at this age.

3. Describe typical gender development and milestones of children at this age.

4. Evaluate the appropriateness of the toy for children of this age, including a rationale based on your knowledge of child development. Include points of view of both psychologist and parent. Include both the benefits and drawbacks of the toy for children at this age.

5. Suggest how parents and children may use the toy together and how a child may use the toy alone.

6. Describe the appeal and appropriateness of the toy to boys and girls. Should the toy maker have done something differently to appeal to both boys and girls? Will parents use the toy differently for boys and girls?

7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the toy as a learning aid, comfort object, or social model.

8. Suggest how to make the toy better. These should include design, availability, cost, size, colour, etc.

After completing the table, write an essay of maximum 1000 words, containing the following:

Summarize what is/was considered “on-time” for adult development during these two periods, and compare and contrast these.

For example, getting married for the first time around age 28 is on-time for the current generation, but the age would have been younger 100 hundred years ago. How did this timing affect adult development?

Are there any effects that are/were cohort-specific? Choose some examples from the table above, and speculate about how these events were related to adult development at the time.

Speculate about the effects of “off-time” events on adult development. For example, having a first baby at age 45 could be considered “off-time” both now and then, but the effects on adult development might be different in these different periods. What effects are cohort-specific and why?

Finally, discuss the meaning of aging with respect to the table above, and to the discussion of Erikson’s stages in Chapter 13 of the Wade et al. textbook.

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