PSY 70: EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY

William C. Sanderson, PhD
Professor of Psychology
221A Hauser Hall
Hofstra University

Email: William.C.Sanderson@Hofstra.edu
Telephone: 516-463-5633
Website:
www.sanderson.bz

Office Hours*: Please email me to schedule a zoom meeting if interested.



COURSE FEEDBACK FORM:Do not hesitate to provide ANONYMOUS feedback about any aspect of the course you are currently taking. No identifying information is accessible to me and I welcome feedback. Every group of students in a classroom is unique and I am willing to make modifications where appropriate. The feedback can include: (1) suggestions for improvement, (2) noting things that are problematic, or (3) noting things that you like about the course and/or my teaching style. PS: I am receptive to non-anonymous feedback as well (william.c.sanderson@hofstra.edu) - but I am providing this option for those more comfortable with giving it anonymously to maximize the feedback I receive.

ANONYMOUS FEEDBACK FORM: https://forms.gle/EGJx7YwstSpTxdh48r


Masks. Hofstra University currently has a zero-tolerance policy that mandates the wearing of masks in buildings on campus (other than your own residence hall room or when you are alone in your own office). Guidelines and policies are reviewed and updated as more information is provided by local, state, and federal agencies and with guidance from our healthcare partners, Northwell Health. Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The University expects that our community will use, as recommended by the CDC, KN95, KF94, or surgical/procedural masks, especially in the classroom. Surgical/procedural masks are available for free throughout campus. Face masks should fit snugly over your mouth and nose and sit under your chin. Neck gaiters, bandanas, or loosely fitting face coverings are not considered appropriate against COVID-19. Based on the mask mandate, food or drink will not be permitted in class. Any student refusing to wear an appropriate mask or in a proper manner will be asked to leave the class immediately. If the student does not leave immediately, the class will be dismissed. The student will also immediately be officially withdrawn from the class, given a grade of W for the course, and be otherwise subject to additional discipline.


PSY 70 Course Description

The primary focus of this course is: What is human nature (that is, why are we the way we are) and why did it develop the way it did? Some of the specific topics covered are: Is monogamy natural for men? For women? Why do men and women differ so much in their interests? Why do men and women respond to sexual cues so differently? Why do people care so much about status? Where does sibling rivalry come from? Why do parents and grandparents favor some children over others? Why do people prefer fattening foods even though they create many problems such as obesity and cardiac risk? Why do humans experience the emotions they do (e.g., love, pride, fear, jealousy, anger, sadness, disgust). Why are people so quick to form groups and label others as "outsiders." Why is the world in a perpetual state of war? Why is "morning sickness" in pregnant women a good thing? Why do some people vomit on roller coasters? How different (or similar!) is human behavior from animals?

All of these questions will be answered from an evolutionary psychology perspective. Evolutionary psychology provides a scientific data base to understand the ultimate origins of human nature. Practical and political implications of findings from evolutionary psychology will be discussed. Full syllabus is below

Psychologists are using evolutionary arguments with increasing frequency. The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and understand the design of the human mind. Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of study, like vision, reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic within it.

In this view, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This way of thinking about the brain, mind, and behavior is changing how scientists approach old topics, and opening up new ones.

The majority of this course will emphasize the scientific underpinnings of evolutionary psychology and will be primarily lecture, although class discussion is encouraged. The last couple of classes will emphasize the practical implications of these findings: What are their implications for the way think of the world and ourselves?

Primary Learning Objectives:

1) Students will learn the controversies related to teaching the theory of evolution.

2) Students will learn the research methods employed in evolutionary psychology.

3) Students will learn a theory of human nature based upon evolutionary psychology.


Required Books

Wright, Robert. (1994). The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way we Are. Vintage Press.

Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Press.


TWO IMPORTANT WARNINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THIS CLASS:

Warning 1 (nature of material in this course):

This course presents evolutionary theories and data about emotionally-charged aspects of human behavior. It is possible that this information may upset you in some way. This is not necessarily a bad thing -- in fact I think it can be a good sign -- perhaps you are pushing your intellectual boundaries, leading you to question received wisdom, making you confront your biases and assumptions. This course covers emotionally charged topics such as sex differences, sexual behavior, infidelity, rape, jealousy, violence, warfare, family conflict, religion, free will, human selfishness and immorality. Also, this course may be personally challenging if you have a strong literal belief in the creation stories of various religions. Evolutionary psychology is based on evolutionary biology, the fossil evidence for human evolution, our behavioral similarities to other primates, and other theories and facts that can be hard to reconcile with ideas related to Creationism or the newer ‘Intelligent Design’ movement. Alternatively, this course may be challenging if you have strong post-modernist, relativist, secular beliefs about the role of culture, ideology, or gender roles in shaping human behavior. You may face some challenges in trying to reconcile those viewpoints with this course’s content which may at times go against some of those ideas as well as current notions of political correctness.

If you strongly adhere to these types of beliefs, you are more than welcome to take this course, however you will have to make your own decision about whether this course is right for you. I am more than willing to discuss any of your concerns about these topics. I attempt to balance presenting ideas that are religiously, culturally, or politically challenging in a respectful way while at the same time maintaining my right to academic freedom in teaching and adhering to a focus on empirical data and scientific theories.

Warning 2 (class attendance): I do not regularly take attendance. However, this is NOT because class attendance is not important -- quite the contrary. Almost all of the material covered in class is novel and rarely overlaps with the readings, so the class notes are absolutely essential. Exams will emphasize material covered in class (90% of questions on exams will come exclusively from lecture material). Getting notes from someone else will not always convey the nuances of what was covered in class as we will often view videos, graphs, figures, etc. Therefore, regular class attendance is absolutely necessary. If you do not believe you will attend class regularly, especially since attendance is not taken, you should NOT take this class. Please note that every semester I have several students at the end who regret their performance on exams because of their lack of class attendance asking for extra credit to raise their grade. There is no extra credit.

On a positive note, if you come to class, pay attention, take decent notes, and do the assigned reading then the exams are easy and you should get a good grade in this course. The questions on the exam are straightforward.

Grading
Exams: Your grade will be based upon THREE exams. Each exam will be worth 1/3 of your final grade (33 points each). Exams will consist of multiple-choice questions (short answer may be included as well – you will be notified in advance about the exact format). Any material covered in class lectures, assigned readings, videos played in class, etc. are “fair game” on the exams. There are NO make-up exams.

The fourth (final) exam is optional. If you are satisfied with your performance on the first three exams your grade will be based upon those. However, if you miss and exam, or would like to replace your lowest score, you can take the final exam. The final exam will also be worth 33 points – however, it will be cumulative (strong emphasis on material covered in class).

You will have one hour to complete each exam.

***Note. If you miss an exam you MUST take the final (4th) exam .

TENTATIVE EXAM DATES
SPRING 2022:

1- M 3/7
2- M 4/11
3- W 5/11
4- M 5/16 (finals week - exam at 2:00pm)

Grading scale:
Final grades will be assigned according to the following numerical equivalents:

90-100 = A
87-89 = B+
83-86 = B
80-82 = B-
77-79 = C+
73-76 = C
70-72 = C-
67-69 = D+
65-66 = D
Below 65 = F

For a description of what letter grades indicate see:
http://bulletin.hofstra.edu/content.php?catoid=71&navoid=5900#ug_grades

Please note that when you take an exam you must put your name and answers on BOTH the scantron sheet and the exam booklet itself. You also must sign the Hofstra Honor Code at the top of the exam. In the event of a dispute (e.g., a claim that the scantron was not scored correctly), for me to reverse the scoring on that item the correct answer must be on your exam booklet.

Academic Integrity:
Honesty is an essential aspect of academic integrity. Individual students are responsible for doing their own work and for not taking credit for the effort and ideas of others. This includes plagiarism, cheating, and not contributing to group projects. This obligation is based on mutual trust. Cheating of any type on exams, papers, or other graded work will not be tolerated. Please familiarize your self with the Hofstra University policies on academic honesty. See below for details.


GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE YOUR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE:

Do not multitask (e.g., check Facebook, text messages) in class -- see the following for an excellent review:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/18/modern-world-bad-for-brain-daniel-j-levitin-organized-mind-information-overload?CMP=fb_gu

Use handwritten notes rather than typing into a computer:

https://nyti.ms/2i9NQHS


SHARED DRIVE FOR THIS COURSE FOR DISTRIBUTION OF MATERIALS:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iu_S_TnQKz74Q0fpD5cfdtytolfJHCIH?usp=sharing


TOPICS/READINGS:

Week 1 & 2

Introduction to Evolutionary Theory & Evolutionary Psychology

Why is Evolutionary Psychology Important?


Reading:Sanderson: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-evolutionary-selves/201703/evolutionary-psychology-applies-everyoneSanderson: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-evolutionary-selves/201711/evolutionary-psychology-and-enlightenmentEvolutionary Psychology: A Primer – Cosmides & Tooby: http://www.cep.ucsb.edu/primer.htmlBiological Mismatch and illness: www.businessinsider.com/patients-and-evolutionary-history-2013-1 Sanderson: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-evolutionary-selves/201706/we-live-in-zoo
NOT required reading - but just cool to look at - Darwin's original On the Origin of Species online:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/02/09/science/20090209-darwin-evolution-documents.html


Week 3

Research Strategies in Evolutionary Psychology

Is Evolution Still Controversial in the U.S.? Why?


Daniel Dennett: https://www.edge.org/conversation/daniel_c_dennett-show-me-the-science Darwin: Ahead of his time: see pdf in shared drive for copy of this article The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/evangelical-scientists-refute-gravity-with-new-int,1778/

Week 4

Human Survival Problems and the Development of the Brain (acquiring food, taste preference,

avoiding predators, avoiding sickness, etc.)

The Evolved Brain: Evolved Psychological Mechanisms

The Adaptive Function of Emotions

(Wright: 1; Pinker: 1-5)


--EXAM 1

Weeks 5-8

Men & Women’s Mating Strategies: Attraction & Love

Qualities and physical characteristics that males and females find attractive in a mate.

Mating motives of males and females.

Rape

Sexual Jealousy

Why Are We so Afraid to Acknowledge Gender Differences?

(Wright: 2-6; Pinker: 18)

--EXAM 2

Week 9

Parenting and Kinship

Parental investment, significance of genetic relatedness, parental favoritism, sibling-rivalry, step-parents.

(Wright: 7-8; Pinker 19)

Week 10 & 11

Cooperative Alliances in Living

Altruism

Aggression (physical confrontation, threats, murder) & Warfare

Domestic Violence

(Wright: 9-10; Pinker 17)

Week 12 & 13

Status, Prestige, and Social Dominance

Consumerism/Materialism: What function does it serve?

Distribution of Resources Throughout The World

(Wright: 13-14; Pinker: 20)

Week 14

Why Are We So Afraid of the Implications of an evolved Human Nature?

Who Are We Really?

What are the Practical Implications of Evolutionary Psychology?

(Pinker: 12-15)


--EXAM 3


--EXAM 4 is during finals week (the time assigned for this class - 1 hour exam).

SHARED FILES:https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iu_S_TnQKz74Q0fpD5cfdtytolfJHCIH?usp=sharing


**** Please Note: The class schedule is subject to change depending on the length of class discussions, the time to cover certain material, and other unforeseen events that can often altar plans. The professor has the right to change the curriculum to best maximize learning.

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Individual Honors Option Proposal – Evolutionary Psychology

Honors College students may choose this option with my permission (If interested send me an email asking to be added to the Honors Option). Students will be required to write 3 brief papers (5 pages each - double spaced, 12 pt font, 1inch margins) discussing a controversy in the field. References must be cited on a separate page (minimum of 4 references required – at least two books and/or journal articles and no more than two internet sources).

***EMAIL completed paper in PDF format to: william.c.sanderson@hofstra.edu

I. DUE MARCH 10

Opponents of evolutionary theory are concerned with the broader implications of many of the theories. For example, explanations of gender differences based upon evolutionary psychology (e.g., males are more physically aggressive than females) raises concerns about promoting “inequality” (sexism). Discuss the specific concerns raised by opponents of evolutionary theory with regard to this issue.

II. DUE APRIL 10

Homosexuality, suicide, and altruism are phenomena that challenge evolutionary theory. Choose one and explain the problem that it creates for evolutionary theory. Then, discuss attempts made by evolutionary theorists to explain the phenomenon you selected.

III. DUE MAY 10

This course will expose you to many new ideas about human nature, some of which are considered very controversial. Discuss whether the information you learned in each of the following areas changed your personal attitude about these issues. Explain why or why not for 3 of the following 5 issues (choose only 3).

1. The nature of sexual relationships between males and females.

2. The obesity epidemic in the United States.

3. The occurrence of aggression/warfare between countries

4. The causes of the most commonly occurring phobias

5. The nature of parent-child relationships.



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UNIVERSITY POLICIES
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Course Syllabi Information

Masks

Hofstra University currently has a zero-tolerance policy that mandates the wearing of masks in buildings on campus (other than your own residence hall room or when you are alone in your own office). Guidelines and policies are reviewed and updated as more information is provided by local, state, and federal agencies and with guidance from our healthcare partners, Northwell Health. Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The University expects that our community will use, as recommended by the CDC, KN95, KF94, or surgical/procedural masks, especially in the classroom. Surgical/procedural masks are available for free throughout campus. Face masks should fit snugly over your mouth and nose and sit under your chin. Neck gaiters, bandanas, or loosely fitting face coverings are not considered appropriate against COVID-19. Based on the mask mandate, food or drink will not be permitted in class. Any student refusing to wear an appropriate mask or in a proper manner will be asked to leave the class immediately. If the student does not leave immediately, the class will be dismissed. The student will also immediately be officially withdrawn from the class, given a grade of W for the course, and be otherwise subject to additional discipline.

Campus Closures/Snow Days

When the campus is closed for snow or other inclement weather, faculty are encouraged to hold classes remotely whenever pedagogically appropriate. Meeting remotely during campus closures eliminates the need to use snow/study days later in the semester. The decision to do so is left to the discretion of each faculty member and is communicated to students in a timely manner.

On snow days or other school closures, childcare, weather emergencies, bandwidth, technology or other home arrangements may interrupt class attendance. Students who are experiencing these issues should speak with faculty about possible ways to participate in class and/or catch up on missed work.

Class Attendance:

Participating in class--including attending in-person or synchronous online class meetings--is an essential part of a Hofstra education.

Instructor and Student Responsibility:

It is the responsibility of each instructor to specify clearly on the course syllabus all class attendance and participation requirements, including policies related to missed assignments, quizzes, and exams. When a student fails to attend class as required, it remains the student's responsibility to contact the instructor by email prior to or immediately after class time to explain the absence. Given the serious nature of the Covid-19 virus, instructors recognize that students who do not feel well should not come to an in-person class meeting. It is the responsibility of the student to discuss with the instructor and make up any missed assignments, quizzes, or exams and to fulfill all class participation requirements in a timely manner. Students who are required to isolate or quarantine as a result of COVID-19 concerns should inform Student Health Services at 516-463-6745. As is the case for other confirmed health and emergency circumstances that may influence students' attendance in classes, faculty will receive notification of anticipated absence(s) via email from the Dean of Students Office or the Center for University Advising. Students will be directed to talk with faculty about the most appropriate way to continue to participate in class and/or catch up on missed work.

Instructors should warn students whose repeated absences are cause for academic concern and inform students if they are in danger of failing the course because of the amount of work or class participation missed. Instructors are encouraged to reinforce attendance and other academic concerns by issuing an Alert through the Navigate app (formerly known as Connect) feature in the Hofstra Portal. If needed, and if permitted under relevant policies, the student may drop or withdraw from the course. Students with long-term illnesses that prevent regular attendance should coordinate with their academic advisors and Student Access Services (SAS) for appropriate accommodations.

Web Cameras:

Classes are scheduled to be in-person. However, there may be occasion when a synchronous online class meeting is warranted. In that instance and for pedagogical, academic honesty, and security reasons, instructors may require students to have their web cameras turned on during synchronous online class meetings, labs, and exams. If specific testing software is required for exams, the student is responsible for making sure it works properly before an exam. Instructors should clearly indicate on the syllabus any course requirements for camera use. If a student has compelling technological or environmental reasons for leaving the camera off during class, the student should communicate directly and privately with the instructor to request an exemption and explore possible solutions.

Availability of Class Material When Students are Unable to Attend Class:

Each faculty member will determine a method(s) to accommodate students who cannot attend class(es) due to medical reasons and are enrolled in classes which include an in-person component. Some examples of course materials faculty may make available include PowerPoint presentations, class notes, recorded classes, or other resources deemed appropriate by the instructor. It is understood that only students enrolled in the course may view any materials posted online. It is important to note that there are some limited instances, e.g. due to the nature of the course material and assignments or based on licensure or accreditation standards, where classes cannot be completed without participation on campus or in a clinical setting. In these instances, the major department will work with the student to make alternative arrangements to help students stay on track in their degree program.

Academic Honesty:

Hofstra University places high value upon educating students about academic honesty. At the same time, the University will not tolerate dishonesty, and it will not offer the privileges of the community to the repeat offender. The academic community assumes that work of any kind--whether a research paper, a critical essay, a homework assignment, a test or quiz, a computer program, or a creative assignment in any medium--is done, entirely and without unauthorized assistance, by the individual(s) whose name(s) it bears. Students bear the ultimate responsibility for implementing the principles of academic honesty. For more information, please visit hofstra.edu/fps/11.html.

In the spring of 2012, the University community affirmed a new expression of commitment by instituting the Hofstra University Honor Code. The Honor Code is a statement of shared values.

  • Hofstra University Honor Code: "As a member of the Hofstra community I pledge to demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior in all aspects of my life, both inside and out of the classroom. I understand that I am accountable for everything I say and write. I will not misrepresent my academic work, nor will I give or receive unauthorized assistance for academic work. I agree to respect the rights of all members of the Hofstra community. I will be guided by the values expressed in the P.R.I.D.E Values. I accept the responsibility to follow this Honor Code at all times."

  • Honor Code Short Form: "I pledge on my honor that I have done this work with honesty and integrity, without giving or receiving unauthorized assistance."

  • Turnitin for Textual Similarity Review: "Students agree that by taking this course all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the Turnitin.com service is subject to the Usage Policy stated in the Turnitin.com site."

  • Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are serious ethical and professional infractions. For information regarding academic honesty, examples of violations, procedures for handling violations, as well as a student's right to appeal a charge, see Faculty Policy Series #11 or Faculty Policy Series #11G.

Disability Accommodations:

Students who need accommodations for a disability should contact Student Access Services (SAS). In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, qualified individuals with disabilities will not be discriminated against in programs, or services available at Hofstra University. Individuals with disabilities are entitled to accommodations designed to facilitate full access to all programs and services. SAS is responsible for coordinating disability-related accommodations and will provide students with documented disabilities accommodation letters, as appropriate.

Please note that accommodations may require early planning and are not retroactive; please contact SAS as soon as possible. All students are responsible for providing accommodation letters to each instructor and for discussing with the instructor the specific accommodations needed and how they can be best implemented in each course. For more information on services provided by the University and for submission of documentation, please contact Student Access Services, Room 107 Mack Student Center, SAS@hofstra.edu, 516-463-7075.

Resources for Students who are Pregnant:

Students who are pregnant, who wish to request adjustments related to their pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition, such as opportunities to make up missed work, excused absence from class, or extensions, should contact Student Access Services, Room 107 Mack Student Center, SAS@hofstra.edu, 516-463-7075. Students who wish to learn more about how the University supports students who are pregnant in continuing their education should contact the Title IX Officer Coordinator for Student Issues at 516-463-5841 or StudentTitleIX@hofstra.edu.

Temporary Adjustments/Academic Leave of Absence:

Students who experience a medical event (e.g., hospitalization) or who have a short-term health condition (longer than 10 days), including a COVID-19-related condition, which they believe may require temporary adjustments to participate in class, please contact:

Student Access Services

Room 107 Mack Student Center

SAS@hofstra.edu

516-463-7075

Students seeking an academic leave of absence from the University (i.e., for a minimum of one full fall or spring semester) should visit our Academic Leave and Withdrawal page for more information.

Absences for Religious Observance:

Hofstra University recognizes that students and/or faculty may from time to time miss class due to religious observances. Students who anticipate missing class for this reason should notify faculty members in advance. Likewise, faculty members who anticipate missing class for religious observance should notify students in their classes.

As per Faculty Policy Series 12 (B): "No student shall be expelled or refused admission to Hofstra University because he or she is unable to participate in any examination, study or work requirement because of his or her religious obligations and practices. However, all students are expected to complete all assignments and examinations. It is understood that no adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student who avails him or herself of religious observances. The University, faculty, and student shall work together to achieve a reasonable accommodation concerning any conflicts between educational and religious obligations."

In accordance with New York state law, each student who is absent from school because of their religious beliefs will be given an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up any examination, study, or work requirements that the student may have missed because of that absence on any particular day or days.

University Deadlines:

For important dates and University deadlines, see the Academic Calendar webpage.

Grade Policy and Deadlines:

Hofstra's policies regarding incomplete grades, default grades, and associated deadlines can be found in the 2021-22 Undergraduate Bulletin and in the 2021-22 Graduate Studies Bulletin.

Discriminatory Harassment, Sexual Assault, Dating & Domestic Violence, and Stalking

Hofstra prohibits sexual and other discriminatory harassment, stalking, domestic and dating violence, and sexual assault (collectively, "Gender-Based Offenses"). Students who believe they have been subjected to any of these Gender-Based Offenses should refer to Hofstra's Nondiscrimination Policy for information about applicable policies and how to submit reports. Students may contact the Title IX Coordinator for Student Issues at 516-463-5841 or StudentTitleIX@hofstra.edu or contact Public Safety at 516-463-6606, or, for concerns involving employees or other nonstudents, the Title IX Coordinator for Employee Issues, at 516-463-6859 or HumanResources@hofstra.edu. Confidential resources and support are also available from medical and counseling professionals in the Student Health and Counseling Center (516-463-6745) and clergy in the Interfaith Center.