Sample Psychology Research Paper on Behavior Genetics

Behavior Genetics

Q.1: Behavior genetics is the discipline of study that assesses the influence of organisms’ genetics (genes and variations in genetic make-up as heredity) on their behavior and the interactions of such heredity with the environment around the organism to yield specific behaviors. This focus of behavior genetics comprises one aspect of the long-running nature-nurture debate that assesses whether predispositions in DNA or influences in the environment have the greatest effect on an individual’s development in terms of personality and behavior (Baker, 2004). In effect, behavior genetics, as a field, utilizes genetic procedures in a bid to comprehend the nature and sources of variations in behavior among individuals.

Q.2: In terms of research behavior to achieve their objectives, geneticists’ investigations involve assessments in multiple disciplines, including input from neuroscience, ethology (animal behavior science), statistics, psychology, epigenetics, and biology, to build up evidence about the roles of genetic make-up and variations in genetic inheritance in the observations of personality and behavioral differences among individuals. Geneticists focus on the use of studies involving genetic association and family investigations, including the studies of adopted children and twins, to establish the possibilities and significance of correlations between variations in genetic make-up with similarities or differences in behaviors. They also evaluate the importance of interactions between genetic predisposition and environmental factors in the development of behaviors (Baker, 2004).

The researchers use selection experiments and investigations on model organisms to diagnose the effects of genes on behavior, employing a variety of molecular procedures to delete, alter, or insert genetic material and hence obtain scientific evidence for specific influences of particular genetic dispositions and consequent interactions with the environment on behavior. Techniques such as floxing (sandwiching DNA sequences between lox P sites), gene knockdown (reducing the expression of genes), and genome editing (use of engineered nuclei to amend, delete, or replace DNA in genomes) allow geneticists varying levels of control over the genomes of model organisms, enabling them to evaluate the outcomes of genetic transformations from behavioral perspectives (Baker, 2004).

Q.3: The purpose of geneticists’ research is to establish the role of genetic make-up and its consequent interactions with the environment around an individual in the development of specific behavioral patterns in the individual’s life (Baker, 2004). Through their research methods, geneticists can establish whether genetic predisposition plays a prominent role relative to the environment, or offers a strong foundation, in determining the behavior that an individual displays and in observable behavioral variations from those of others. In this way, the geneticists can contribute to the nature-nurture debate and literature on the role of genetics in behavior.

Q.4: An example of current research in behavior genetics concerns investigations on possible links between dyslexia – a reading and literary condition – and genetic make-up. Recent studies, including twin studies, have established that dyslexia and reading abilities are highly heritable, while other recent ones have focused on establishing the heritability of reading abilities and the literary condition across developmental phases in the lives of individuals (Hensler et al, 2010).

Q.5: An example of past research in behavior genetics was the focus in the 1980s and 1990s on establishing whether genetics had a role in criminal behavior among people. Following research findings that fewer than 10% of individuals perpetrated over half of crimes and evaluations of the prevalence of familial concentrations of anti-social behaviors and crime, there was increased focus among researchers to establish the role of genetic inheritance on delinquency and criminal behavior (Moffit, 2005).

References

Baker, C. (2004). Behavioral Genetics: an Introduction to how Genes and Environments interact through Development to shape Differences in Mood, Personality, and Intelligence. Washington, U.S.: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Hensler, B., Schatschneider, C., Taylor, J., & Wagner, R. (2010). Behavioral Genetic Approach to the study of Dyslexia. Journal of Developmental Pediatrics 31(7): 525-532. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952936/

Moffit, T. (2005). The New Look of Behavioral Genetics in Developmental Psychopathology: Gene-Environment Interplay in Antisocial Behaviors. Psychology Bulletin 131(4): 533-554. Retrieved from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.473.6746&rep=rep1&type=pdf