Biological Page Updated

The site has received a makeover so it is much cleaner and easier to navtiage. I have updated the biological page and fixed some broken links. More fixes are on the way. Remember you can always email me feedback or suggestions to improve this site.

Upcoming Updates

I have been very busy with school and have not updated in a while. I am currently creating my ultimate study guides which will be available as a downloadable PDF.

The titles include:

  • Exam Technique - The inside information I give to all my students for nailing exam technique which includes information from the annual Psychology Subject Reports and Mark Schemes
  • Nailing the Internal Assessment - In this guide all of the information required to achieve a high mark in the IA will be provided
  • Last Minute Study Guides - Condensed versions of the material I deliver at Lanterna's revision courses where I go over the entire syllabus (excluding options) in just 16 hours
These are my current priority and then I will update some of the free content on here which is still missing some important details.

Happy Revising :)

Videos Back up

My apologies for the videos being down. I have reactivated my 4shared account and they should all be working now. Please report any broken links and I will fix them.

Evolutionary Altruism


  • Altruism is when you perform a behavior for someone (to increase their survival) at a cost to yourself (like getting hurt) without any clear benefit to yourself
  • Having altruistic individuals in your group builds social cohesion which can strengthen the group because you have individuals willing to sacrifice themselves to benefit the survival of the group
  • People can sacrifice their time to gather food for the whole group
  • People can put themselves in danger to ensure the survival of a group member

Prosocial Humans and Chimps (Warneken and Tomasello, 2006) PDF

  • Aim: Will humans and captive chimps help someone if given the opportunity?
  • Method: Experimenter makes it clear to the chimp and human that they need help with something
    • The dependent variable was whether the child or human helped the experimenter
  • Results: Human infants help most of the time
  • Chimps help when they understand the goal of the experimenter
  • Conclusion: Helping behavior may be innate and determined by genes which makes evolutionary sense since strong social bonds means groups may be more likely to survive
    • Altruism may have evolved from a common ancestor that both humans and chimps share
  • Evaluation: They only used captive chimps which may have been helping the experimenter (who was their caretaker) because they know the caretaker provides them with food
    • This experiment tells us nothing about how helpful wild chimps are
      • Follow up experiments have shown that wild chimps do help their fellow wild chimps and not just their caretakers

Here are some clips from the Warneken and Tomasello (2006) study

Evaluation of Evolutionary Arguments

  • Testing evolutionary theories of behavior is empirically difficult so researchers may be led astray by confirmation bias
  • We know little, if anything, about Homo sapien behavior - it is purely speculative
    • We can never know how extinct species behaved
  • Disregard the role of culture in shaping behavior
  • There is a tendency for researchers to anthropomorphize animal behavior
    • A famous example is elephants who stand around dead elephants for some time which can be interpreted as the elephants grieving

Evolutionary Disgust


  • Disgust is considered a basic emotion that is hard-wired to promote survival
  • Disgust helps us avoid rotten food that could make us sick and die
  • A survey showed that participants had the strongest disgust reactions to items that threaten the immune system like pathogens (Curtis et al., 2004) PDF

Nausea and Pregnancy (Fessler, 2006) PDF

  • Pregnant women get an influx of hormones that lowers the immune system's defenses when they are pregnant
  • This happens because the baby is a foreign object to the body and if the immune system wasn't weakened it would attack the baby
  • The researchers wanted to see if nausea compensates for the weakend immune system
  • Method: They showed pregnant women different scenarios like stepping on an earthworm (which is gross but not relevant to getting sick) and maggots on meat (food scenario related to getting sick)
  • Results: Highest disgust towards food scenarios
  • Conclusion: Nausea helps pregnant women avoid rotten food and compensates for their lowered immune system during the first trimester

Ethics and Genetics

  • Telling people their behavior is because of their genes has several ethical considerations
    • There can be anxiety for the parents and children
    • Should you tell parents that they have a short serotonin transporter gene and may have passed on this gene to their children?
  • Stigmas can be attached like for the 'psychopath gene'
    • It is unlikely that all males with XYY chromosomes are criminals
  • If genes are linked to intelligence then being told you have 'stupid genes' may make you feel powerless
Criminal Genes (Barnes et al., 2011)
  • Their research found that genes may affect whether people choose a life of crime
  • This kind of research can brand criminal gene possessors as incapable of changing because they are simply born criminals
  • Therefore criminals with these genes may be less inclined to change
    • They may even believe change isn't possible
  • Using the criminal gene argument in court could lead the jury to reduce the sentence for the offender because the crime wasn't his/her fault
    • Is this what psychological research should be used for?
Addiction Genes (Morozova et al., 2012)
  • PKNOX2 gene has been linked to addictive behavior
  • Children can acquire the PKNOX2 gene from their parents
  • Is it ethical to tell the parents that their genes may be responsible for their child's addition?
  • Telling substance abusers that it is because of their genes removes personal responsibility
  • They may feel powerless to break their addiction
Depressed Genes (Collier et al., 1996)
  • 5-HTT serotonin gene has two versions
  • Short version produces less serotonin
  • Long version produces more serotonin
  • Bipolar and depressed patients are more likely to have the short transporter gene
  • Telling patients they have the short transporter gene may be counterproductive to therapy because they feel they are destined to be depressed or bipolar by their genes
  • Telling parents may make them feel responsible for their child's mental disorder

Mental Workout

Mental Workout Grows Muscles (Wright and Smith, 2007)
  • Background: This study is related to mirror neurons, the same neurons can fire when you watch yourself exercise as when you actually do exercise
  • Aim: How does a mental workout compare to physical workout in terms of muscle growth
  • Method: Control group did physical exercise for 6 weeks and the Imagery group watched a video of themselves performing the workout for 6 weeks
    • The dependent variable was strength measured after 6 weeks
  • Results: Imagery group outperformed controls even though they did less physical exercise
  • Conclusion: Suggests that muscles (physiology) can interact with cognition (thinking about exercise) and become stronger without doing any physical work