Altruism as an Adaptive Behaviour
The book of Genesis states that God created life in an array of fixed species and it was not until the 19th Century, that paleontological discoveries started to cast doubt on creationism and Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution in On the Origin of the Species (Clegg, 2007, p.120). The two processes that are involved in evolution and the fundamental connections between the evolutionary process and behaviour, in particular that of altruism and whether it can be seen as an adaptive behaviour are considered here.
Evolution occurs due to two main processes: genetic variation and selection. A human being’s genetic make-up is created from 46 randomly selected chromosomes. The chromosomes are transmitted in equal measure from each parent. From this “mixing” (Clegg, 2007, p.117), these chromosomes will create the cells that become our body and our mind. We will likely inherit characteristics from both our parents, dependent on dominant and recessive alleles e.g. eye colour. Those cells known as neurons form part of our brains, our neural systems, these dictate our emotional characteristics such as our personality but also perform functions such as informing us that we need to find food or water.
Selection is split into two separate processes; natural selection and sexual selection. Natural selection is concentrated on survival and sexual selection is based on the need to reproduce.
Natural selection was first noted by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution originates mainly from his observations of the Galapagos finch (Clegg, 2007) and how the species had evolved over time to best survive dependent on their environments. Darwin’s theory considers that each and every species is subject to change, evolving to better suit their
Bibliography: Clegg, A, (2007) Evolutionary Psychology. In D. Miell, A. Phoenix, & K. Thomas (Eds.), Mapping Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 105-165). Milton Keynes: The Open University Littleton, K, Toates, F and Braisby, N (2007) Three Approaches to Learning. In D. Miell, A. Phoenix, & K. Thomas (Eds.), Mapping Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 167-224). Milton Keynes: The Open University Toates, F (2007) Biological Processes and Psychological Explanation. In D. Miell, A. Phoenix, & K. Thomas (Eds.), Mapping Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 225-289). Milton Keynes: The Open University Thomas, K (2007) The Individual Differences Approach to Personality. In D. Miell, A. Phoenix, & K. Thomas (Eds.), Mapping Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 291-347). Milton Keynes: The Open University The Course Team (2007) Correlational Studies and Experiments. In The Course Team (Eds.), Exploring Psychological Research Methods (1st ed., pp. 43-76). Milton Keynes: The Open University EPOCH - http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/file.php/2850/kmap/1183374514/epoch.html