Nature versus Nurture

Name: Nature versus Nurture
Studypoints: 6 ECTS


Course Program 2014: see Blackboard

Coordinators: Dr. Tinca Polderman, Dr. Pim van Nierop

Lecturers: Dr. Niels van Doesum, Prof. dr. Elly A. Konijn, Dr. Gary Lewis, Dr. Pim van Nierop, Dr. Tinca Polderman, Prof. dr. Carlo Schuengel, Dr. Sven Stringer

Goal: To understand causes of individual differences in human behavior, and to be able to critically evaluate the ongoing nature-nurture debate.

Course Content: Humans show considerable individual differences which are caused by differences in the individual’s genes and/or by differences in their environment. In this course the influence of genes and environment on behavior will be dissected using empirical evidence obtained from experiments with human subjects and animals. The course focuses on human traits that are derived from socially relevant topics, such as social and antisocial behavior, political attitude/voting behavior, empathy, and the effects of violent computer games on aggression. Students will be introduced to the world of DNA and genetic information, with hands-on experience with DNA techniques (DNA collection, isolation, and genotyping), and with discussions about the the ethical aspects of DNA research. Evolution of human brain development and behavior will be clarified by pointing out the intriguing parallels with social cognitive skills of other primates.

Method: Lectures, practicals, workgroups

Literature: “Behavior Genetics”, 7th edition, by Knopik, Neiderhiser, DeFries, Plomin (2017). Scientific papers and lectures

Testing: Exam, debates, and practical. Note that a minimum grade of 5.5 should be obtained for the exam.

Focus Group: Third year bachelor students

Participation: Two years of bachelor education (all directions)

Central Academic Skill: Debating