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Evolutionary psychology

Emphasizes the importance of adaptation, reproduction, and "survival of the fittest" in shaping behavior.


Threadlike structures that come in 23 pairs, one member of each pair coming from each parent. Chromosomes contain the genetic substance DNA.


A complex molecule that contains genetic information.


Units of hereditary information composed of short segments of DNA. Genes direct cells to reproduce themselves and manufacture the proteins that maintain life.


Cellular reproduction in which the cell's nucleus duplicates itself with two new cells being formed, each containing the same DNA as the parent cell, arranged in the same 23 pairs of chromosomes.


A specialized form of cell division that occurs to form eggs and sperm ( or gametes ).


A stage in reproduction whereby an egg and a sperm fuse to create a single cell, called a zygote.


A sigle cell formed through fertilization.


A person's genetic heritage; the actual genetic material.


The way an individual's genotype is expressed in observable and measurable characteristics.

Down syndrome

A chromosomally transmitted form of mental retardation, caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21

Klinefelter syndrome

A chromosomal disorder in which males have an extra X chromosome, making them XXY instead of XY.

Fragile X syndrome

A genetic disorder involving an abnormality in the X chromosome, which becomes constricted and often breaks.

Turner syndrome

A chromosomal disorder in females in which either an X chromosome is missing, making the person XO instead of XX, or part of one X chromosome is deleted.

XYY syndrome

A chromosomal disorder in which males have an extra Y chromosome.

Phenylketonuria (PKU)

A genetic disorder in which an individual cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid. PKU is now easily detected byt, if left untreated, results in mental retardation and hyperactivity.

Behavior genetics

The field that seeks to discover the influence of heredity and environment on individual differences in human traits and development.

Twin study

A study in which the behavioral similarity of identical twins is compared with the behavioral similarity of fraternal twins.

Adoption study

A study in which investigators seek to discover whether, in behavior and psychologica characteristics, adopted children are more like their adoptive parents, who provided a home environment, or more like their biological parents, who contributed their heredity. Another form of the adoption study is to compare adoptive and biological siblings.

Passive genotype environment correlations

Correlations that exist when the natural parents, who are genetically related to the child, provide a rearing environment for the child.

Evocative genotype environment correlations

Correlations that exist when the child's genotype elicits certain types of physical ad social environment.

Active genotype environment correlations

Correlations that exist when children seek out environments they find compatible and stimulating.

Shared environmental experiences

Siblings' common environmental experiences, such as their parents' personalities and intellectual orientation, the family's socioeconomic status, and the neighborhood in which they live.

Nonshared environmental experiences

The child's own unique experiences, both within the family and outside the family, that are not shared by another sibling. Thus, experiences occurring within the family can be part of the "nonshared environment".

Epigenetic view

Emphasizes that development is the result of an ongoing, bidirectional interchange between heredity and environment.

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