College Of Arts And Sciences | Nature, Nurture, and Human Behavior
E105 | 0206 | Rose


10:10-11:25 MW PY 111
This course addresses an ancient, enduring question central to understanding
human behavior: how is our behavior influenced by heredity and environment,
by nature and nurture?  The question often is: How much is our behavior
influenced by nature?  How much by nurture?  But, as the course will reveal,
there is a continuing interaction of heredity and environment in the
development and expression of all behavior.  So, the real question is not
how much, but simply how.  This central question will introduce historical
and contemporary methods, data, and controversy in human behavioral
genetics.   Course content includes the role of nature and nurture in major
mental disorders, the role of genes and experiences in individual
differences in personality (in smoking and drinking and other health habits,
for example, in attitudes and expectancies, in reading ability and spatial
visualization) and the genetic component to an array of behavioral outcomes,
from sexual orientation to job choice and job satisfaction, variations in
life-style and life-satisfaction.  Controversy over recent reports on adult
similarities of identical twins reunited after separation in infancy, on
within-family resemblance and between-family differences, on group
differences in aptitude and achievement (e.g., The Bell Curve), and on
recent reports of candidate genes for specific behaviors, e.g., for
homosexuality and alcoholism, to behavior-genetic analyses of happiness and
depression, delinquency and divorce, will be part of class discussion.

Course Procedures/Requirements: To facilitate intensive discussion and
individualized writing, discussion groups will be formed from subsets of the
class  Each student will be assigned to two of six scheduled discussion
section meetings in which to participate.  Students will write two "minute
papers" in class and will prepare two take-home essays.  The take-home
essays will be graded for both content and composition, and students will be
encouraged to revise them after receiving initial critical feedback.  Essay
revisions that are responsive to criticism will lead to an improved grade,
and the two take-home essays and "minute papers" will contribute 40% to the
course evaluation.  Mid-term and final exams, composed of short-answer and
multiple-choice questions, will be scheduled to cover major topics of the
course.   Required readings will include accounts of historical ideas and
contemporary research in human behavioral genetics; chosen from both
scientific and popular media, they will be assembled into a course pack.