Sample Questions from Class
Imagine that you are a researcher interested in spatial memory and you would like to know whether being exposed to complex mazes leads, in rats, to an increase in the size of the hippocampi (regions of the brain thought to be important for spatial memory). Describe the steps you would take to carry out a randomized controlled experiment to address this question. [3 points]
What is meant by sampling bias and indicate how it can best be avoided? [2 points]
Evolutionary Foundations of Behaviour
Many researchers believe that the human brain has evolved specialised built-in circuits that support abilities important for survival and reproduction. List two human abilities that likely involve specialized built-in circuits [2 points].
Briefly explain how William’s syndrome supports the notion of specialized brain circuits [2 points].
Provide an example of a fixed action pattern. Describe the behaviour itself and the sign or releasing stimulus that gives rise to the behaviour. In addition, provide an ultimate explanation for the fixed action pattern. [3 points]
Humans are moderately polygynous. Describe what this means [1 point]. Indicate the traits of males and females associated with males and females [2 points]. Provide an ultimate explanation pertaining to the relationship between polygyny and the sizes of males and females [2 points].
The Jacana birds of Panama (described in class) are polyandrous. What does this mean in terms of male and female patterns of parental investment, characteristics, and competition for mates? [3 points]
POINTS TO INCLUDE IN ANSWER: In polyandry, males invest more than females in caring for off-spring. Females are larger and more aggressive than males. It is the females who compete for access to mates.
Provide an ultimate (or evolutionary) explanation for why male sexual jealously may be an adaptation males inherit in their genes. [2 points]
SAMPLE ANSWER: Sexually jealousy in males increases the likelihood that the partner’s offspring are their own. Thus an adaptation for sexual jealously will be selected for in the population an adaption that removed sexual jealousy would not be selected for because it would be less likely to be passed on to subsequent generations.
Humans are moderately polygynous. Describe what this means [1 point]. Indicate the traits of males and females associated with polygyny [2 points]. Provide an ultimate explanation pertaining to the relationship between polygyny and the sizes of males and females [2 points].
Questions from Review (last class)
Describe the main differences between a controlled experiment and an observational (or correlational) study [2 points].
Define what is meant by sampling bias, non-response bias, and response bias [3 points].
Daly and Wilson analysed homicide rates and found that there is a higher incidence rate of children being killed by their stepfather than if children being killed by their biological father. Describe the sociobiological explanation that Daly and Wilson provides for this finding [2 points]. Discuss limitations to this explanation, especially in so far as human behaviour may be related to that of other species [2 points].
Joe’s former girlfriend Judith, who he still adores, always wore a provocative perfume called “Will He or Won’t He”. To this day, Joe feels a warm glow whenever he smells this fragrance. This never happened before he met Judith. In this classically conditioned response, indicate the unconditioned stimulus, the unconditioned response, the conditioned stimulus, and the conditioned response [2 points].
Describe the basic steps involved in a classical conditioning experiment [3 points].
Classical conditioning and operant conditioning differ in terms of the relationship between stimuli and responses. Provide an example of a classical conditioned behaviour and indicate the stimulus and the response [1 point]. Provide an example of a operantly conditioned behaviour and indicate the stimulus and the response [1 point].
Within the context of classical conditioning, briefly describe the processes of extinction, generalization, and discrimination [3 points].
Food aversion seems to be a special case of classical conditioning. Briefly indicate how food aversion differs from standard classical conditioning [2 points].
Describe Tolman’s experiment showing insightful behaviour in rat’s exploration of mazes [2 points]. Indicate what Tolman argued animals were learning in this experiment [1 point]. Indicate why Tolman’s results are difficult to explain in terms of standard operant conditioning. Be sure to indicate what standard operant conditioning would predict in Tolman’s experiment [2 points].