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The Effect of Genetics on Behavior, An Overview

Key Terms:

Behavioral Genetics - This field of study deals with understanding how both genetics and the environment contribute to individual variations in human behavior.

Diathesis-Stress Model - This model tries to explain the origin of depression. It says that either genetics or environment plays the larger role in depression. If the environment is bad, depression will mainly be caused by it. If genetics are bad, these are what will cause the depression.

Inheritance - Genes and DNA are passed down from parent to child to grandchild and so forth.

When studying behavior, psychologists look for a combination of effects between the environment the subject resides in, as well as the genetic contribution. Genetics is a very complex area of study, as even slight differences in makeup can have vast effects. For instance, humans share 93% of genes with the rhesus macaque monkeys. However, humans do not look like these monkeys, and the behavior is much different.

Psychologists may say that one has a genetic disposition for certain behavior, but for these genes to "activate," certain environmental stimuli are needed. Say that one has a long family history of depression. It is possible that this will never manifest its self in the subject if nothing overly traumatic occurs. However, due to this "vulnerability," if a very traumatic event does occur, then the subject will be at a much higher risk for depression than one who does not have the genetics for it. This depression model is known as the diathesis-stress model.

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Outline the diathesis-stress model and its use in depression treatment.

Biological Level of Analysis