Selected Topics - Evolutionary Psychology

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2012
Prothro-Yeager Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF - 11:00 - 11:50

Dr. Don Knox (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Evolutionary Psychology
Origin of Species - Darwin
Descent of Man

Course Objectives

By the conclusion of the course, the student will understand and will be able to:

  • Define Evolved Psychological Mechanisms
  • Be able to evaluate topics such as Sex and mating, how we parent, global kinship patterns, war and aggression, jealousy, and dominance hierarchies in terms of evolutionary psychology.
  • Understand that Evolutionary Psychology is another theory in psychology that helps us to explain human behavior as an adaptation.

Course Expectations

“In the distant future I see open fields for more important researches.  Psychology will be based on a new foundation that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation” (Darwin,1859).

It is now 150 years later and although science looks at Evolutionary Psychology as a  rather new branch of psychology in reality it has been here for quite a long time waiting to answer the questions of the origins and nature of the human mind.  No longer will the human mind consist in psychological terms as a blank slate that parents, caregivers, teachers, and one’s cultural context all contribute. The biological components of ecological systems evolved together forming the human brain.  Behaviors are thus adaptations to environmental circumstances that existed in the past as well as in the present.

Designed from millions of years of adaptations, the human mind developed from circumstances our ancestors confronted.  Evolutionary Psychology demands that we examine these adaptations and attempt to understand their evolved functions.  What did natural selection want to accomplish with behaviors?  Why are there universal patterns in behavior?  Why do we fall in love?  Is it possible that infanticide served a purpose at some particular time?  Why do we get jealous, aggressive, fight wars, and engage in altruistic behaviors? 


Course Outline:  This course will examine the mechanisms of the human mind through the understanding of evolutionary psychology.  We will evaluate the origins of many models of behavior (many still expressed by cultures still relatively untouched by “civilization”) that attempt to explain our current lives.  Topics such as Sex and mating, how we parent, global kinship patterns, war and aggression, jealousy, and dominance hierarchies will be discussed as incorporated from outside readings along with the required texts.  Finally, this course will attempt to use evolutionary psychology as a unifying theme for the many related field of science.

Grading Standards

  1. Exams: Five Exams (total of 59%)


  1. Journal reviews: Four Journal reviews (total of 20%)


  1. Theme Papers:  Theme 1 – Sex and Mating; Theme 2 – Parenting and Kinship; Theme 3 - Problems of Group Living (total of 21% of grade)

Final Exam

12/10/2012 10:30

Submission Format Policy

All work will be submitted using WebCT and we use APA format

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Not allowed

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Class attendance is expected!  Schedule problems can usually be worked out, but must be discussed IN ADVANCE.  Bona fide emergencies do sometimes occur, but must be discussed with the instructor as soon as possible after the emergency absence.




An absence may be excused ONLY if the student complies with, or provides one of the following:

a.         Negotiates approval for the absence with the instructor IN ADVANCE, or in the case of a legitimate emergency, as soon as is reasonable.

b.         Presents a written excuse from a physician or the MSU Infirmary.

c.         Presents written evidence of participation in a mandatory University function (Band, Choir, Sports, etc.)

d.         Presents written evidence of attendance at a recognized professional meeting or professional educational program.

e.         Presents a written excuse from a physician for a dependent child’s illness.


Other Policies

Instructor’s policy on Academic Dishonesty:

Academic Integrity: - Students are expected to abide by the rules for academic integrity. Any violations of these rules will be reported to the proper authorities for disciplinary action (please consult your student catalog – page 71). Students caught cheating in the class will be given a grade of “F” for the course. Cheating includes plagiarism—taking credit for someone else’s work (e.g., cutting and pasting text from someone else’s work from the internet or some other electronic form or directly quoting or paraphrasing someone’s work and not properly referencing the source).


Service for the Disabled: It is University policy that no otherwise qualified disabled person be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity in the University.  Students should inform the instructor of existing disabilities at the first class meeting.


Other Comments:

Taping, laptops, cell phones – NOT ALLOWED!


Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at