by Saul McLeod published 2007
Biology is defined as the study of life (from the Greek bios meaning ‘life’ and logos meaning ‘study’). A biological perspective is relevant to the study of psychology in three ways:
1. Comparative method: different species of animal can be studied and compared. This can help in the search to understand human behavior.
2. Physiology: how the nervous system and hormones work, how the brain functions, how changes in structure and/or function can affect behavior. For example, we could ask how prescribed drugs to treat depression affect behavior through their interaction with the nervous system.
3. Investigation of inheritance: what an animal inherits from its parents, mechanisms of inheritance (genetics). For example, we might want to know whether high intelligence is inherited from one generation to the next.
Each of these biological aspects, the comparative, the physiological and the genetic, can help explain human behavior.
History of The Biological Approach
* The Voyage of the Beagle (1805 - 1836) - Darwin formulated his theory of natural selection through observing animals while travelling the world.
* Harlow (1848) Phineas Gage brain injury case study provides neuroscience with significant information regarding the working of the brain.
* Darwin (1859) publishes "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection". 1,250 copies were printed, most of which sold the first day.
* Jane Goodall (1957) began her study of primates in Africa, discovering that chimps have behaviors similar to all the human cultures on the planet.
* Edward Wilson (1975) published his book, "Sociobiology" which brought together evolutionary perspective to the psychology.
Biological Approach Summary
Listen to a MIT undergraduate lecture on Love and Evolution.
Listen to a MIT undergraduate lecture on The Brain.
BBC Radio 4: Mind Myths.
Darwin, C. (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1st ed.). London: John Murray.
Harlow J. M. (1848). Passage of an iron rod through the head. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 39, 389–393.
Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (1992). The psychological foundations of culture. In J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wilson, E. (1975). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Harvard University Press
How to cite this article:
McLeod, S. A. (2007). . Retrieved from
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