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thread like structures made of DNA that contain the genes


a complex molecule containing the genetic information that makes up the chromosomes. (Forms a double helix bonded by nucleotides.)


the biochemical units of heredity that make up the chormosomes; a segment of DNA capable of synthesizing a protein.


the complete instructions for all the genetic material in its chromosomes. Has 3 billion weakly bonded pairs of nucleotides organized as coiled chains of DNA.

Natural Selection

The principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those that lead to increased reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations.


A random error in gene replication that leads to a change in the sequence of nucleotides; the source of all genetic discovery.

Evolutionary Psychology

the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind using priniciples of natural selection. Natural selection has favored genes that designed both behavioral tendencies and information-processing systems that solved adaptive problems faced by our ancestors, thus contributing to the survival and spread of their genes.


in psychology, the characteristics, whether biologically or socially influenced, by which people define male or female.

Behavior Genetics

The study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior.


Every nongenetic influence, from prenatal nutrition to the people and things around us.

Identical Twins

Twins who develop from a single fertilized egg that splits in two, creating two genetically identical organisms.

Fraternal Twins

Twins who develop from separate eggs. They are genetically no closer than brothers and sisters, but they share a fetal environment.


A person's characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity.


The proportion of variation among individuals that we can attribute to genes. This may vary, depending on the range of populations and enviroments studied.


The dependence of the effect of one factor (such as environment) on another factor (such as heredity).

Molecular Genetics

The subfield of biology that studies the molecular structure and function of genes.


The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.


Understood social prescriptions, or rules, for accepted and expected behavior.

Personal Space

the buffer zone we like to maintain around our bodies


Variations in ideas, fashions, and innovations passed from one person to another that cause rapid cultural mutations.

X Chromosome

the sex chromosome found in both men and women. Females have 2; males have one. One from each parent produces a female child

Y Chromosome

the sex chromosome found only in males. When paired with the other chromosome from the mother, it produces a male child.


The principle male sex hormone. During prenatal development, this stimulates the development of the external male sex organs.


A culturally prescribed set of behaviors expected of those who occupy a particular social position.

Gender Roles

a culturally prescribed set of behaviors for males and females.

Gender Identity

is one's personal sense of being male or female.


The acquisition of a traditional feminine or masculine gender role.

Social Learning Theory

Learning social behavior by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished.

Gender Schema Theory

children must acquire a cultural concept of what it means to be female or male and adjust their behavior accordingly.

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