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11.S: Chapter Summary
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Review of Key Points
- Twin studies, adoption studies, and family studies allow us to examine the heritability of personality traits. Identical twins share 100 percent of the genetic material, and siblings raised in different families following adoption allow for an ideal comparison between genetic and environmental factors.
- As important as genetics are, the environment also plays a significant role in development. Studies on intelligence have shown a strong degree of heritability, but culture also makes a significant contribution.
- Behavior genetics is the term used for the study of the influence of genetics on behavior. Kagan has demonstrated that temperament, the emotional component of personality, appears to be the most salient of inborn characteristics. According to Kagan, approximately 10 percent of children are naturally inhibited, whereas approximately 20 percent of children are naturally more outgoing and adventurous.
- Studies on the heritability of personality traits consistently show that genetics is responsible for approximately 50 percent of the nature of our personality. Genetic factors also play a role in a wide variety of other psychological factors, such as attitudes, interests, and psychological disorders.
- Current studies on the role of genetics in personality tend to focus on gene-environment interactions. Kagan’s research has identified the amygdala, and its role in emotional reactivity to novel situations, as an important neurological structure in the development of a behavioral inhibition system in some people.
- Sociobiology examines the role of evolution in the behavior of humans. Sociobiologists focus on inclusive fitness, the advantage that a given behavior confers on the likelihood of specific genes being passed on to an individual’s offspring or the offspring of their close kin.
- Sociobiology allows for new perspectives on behavior that might otherwise seem illogical or, at least, difficult to explain. Patterns of mate selection, parenting and grandparenting, and religion all offer biological advantages when viewed from this perspective.
- Evolutionary psychology is the field of study in which sociobiology is specifically applied to psychology.
- Richard Dawkins has suggested that cultural units, which he calls memes, are subject to the same rules of evolution as are genes. The transmission of these cultural units may play a critical role in the development of individuals and the human species as a whole.
- Evolutionary psychology is the specific application of sociobiology to the field of psychology.
- Reich’s somatic psychology is focused on the intimate interrelationship between the body and the mind. He believed that psychological health required the fulfillment and release of biological energy through the orgasm. Reich also described the physical presentation of individuals demonstrating muscular armoring, which he considered to be the natural consequence of inhibiting aggression.
- The Buddha described consciousness as arising from moments of contact, the contact between a sense object (stimulus), a sense organ, and awareness of the object.
- Being mindful of these moments of contact involves practicing the four mindfulness trainings: mindfulness of body, mindfulness of feeling, mindfulness of mind, and mindfulness of mental objects.
- Mindfulness training has had a significant impact on Western psychology. Examples include the influential mindfulness-based stress reduction program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Focusing. Mindfulness training has also been extended to working with children and to relational-cultural therapy.
- Cognitive neuroscientists are beginning to demonstrate changes in brain function as a result of deep meditation. Similar changes occur during hypnosis, suggesting the possibility of some inherent function for altered states of consciousness.
- The martial arts provide methods for training the body and mind together. The first formal martial arts program appears to have been developed by the founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma. He intended to help the monks at the Shao-Lin temple keep their bodies fit as they devoted their lives to meditation. These concepts of keeping body and mind fit together leads to a lifestyle that can be called the martial Way.
- The martial arts include guidelines for balancing physical discipline with spiritual/mental discipline. Examples of these guidelines include the five tenets of Taekwondo and the Bushido code of the Samurai warriors.