Behaviour Genetics Vs. Sociobiology

From: Fenton, Liz (
Date: Thu May 23 1996 - 15:45:50 BST

What is the difference between behaviour genetics and sociobiology?

There are many aspects of behaviour which are determined by
inheritance, from hair colour to temperament. The current view is that
behaviour is influenced by heridity and the environmment interacting,
and behaviour geneticists study genetics. Sociobiology doesn't look at
genes, but at predictions about human behaviour, about what might have
made survival more successful in the past.Whereas behaviour genetics
study twins, comparing fraternal with identical to look at the
differences caused by their genes, sociobiologists see humans as
products of natural selection and want to know why we behave as we do.
They attempt to work out why we do certain things by seeing our actions
as being based on deliberate decisions. To decide whether to carry out
something, sociobiologists see humans as deliberating the possible
outcome and what effect this would have on their overall inclusive
fitness- to what would happen to them first and foremost. Altruism
would therefore pose a problem as if the behaviour a problem if they
are correct, then why would anybody do something for someone else at
all? Behaviour genetics look at "heritability"-how much of variation is
due to heridity, but this doesn't apply to the individual.
Sociobiologist try to determine behaviour by asking questions about the
influence of motivation and personal development through learning, yet
behaviour genetics look at behaviour as determined by genes which have
in turn been determined by evolution as only the survival genes have
been passed on.

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