Sociobiology Offers An Evolutionary Approach To Human Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Sociology Type: Essay Paper: #37866232 Related Topics: Genetic Code, Human Ecology, Primate, Materialism
Excerpt from Essay :

Sociobiology offers an evolutionary approach to human behavior and psychology. The fundamental tenet of sociobiology is that psychological traits have adaptive functions and are often embedded in DNA. Psychological traits, like physical features, are passed down through the generations. Some traits will manifest with greater likelihood than others, and thus, traits evolve in a process of natural selection. The intellectual roots of sociobiology stem from the theory of evolution in biology, as well as from sociology and anthropology. The study of sociobiology originated with Wilson, who also refers to the field as behavioral ecology (Driscoll, 2013; Wilson, 2000). Methodologies include biological and genetics research, as well as the methods of data collection employed in the social sciences such as observation. To avoid complications with longitudinal studies and long-range data collection, sociobiologists use frequency models including those...


Thus, sociobiology is more akin to sociology and anthropology than to psychology. Although sociobiology relies heavily on empirical research in the field of genetics, the study of human behavior in social systems requires observational data and approaches that more closely resemble anthropology than biology. Furthermore, sociobiology can be applied to the non-human animal kingdom as well as to humans (Driscoll, 2013). Special attention may be paid to non-human primates, but sociobiology equally applies to members of other species. Thus, the field of sociobiology can complement zoology.

The strengths of sociobiology are its flexibility and interdisciplinary applications. It attempts to ground its theories in evidence, preferring quantitative data and eschewing qualitative data. Its weaknesses include the occasional reliance on speculative or projective data, and an association with "pop sociobiology" that may diminish the credibility of the field (Driscoll, 2013). Moreover, it proves difficult to develop a cohesive theory of human sociology and psychology that ignores the value of qualitative analysis.

From an ethical standpoint, there may also be a tendency for sociobiology to present a deterministic view of human behavior that is focused overly much on the past, rather than focused on proactive solution to current human problems. Moreover, sociobiology veers toward absolute materialism in that behaviors like altruism or emotions like love are explained solely in terms of their biological or functional relevance. One of the reasons Wilson (2000) offers for the lack of reciprocal altruism in the animal kingdom is that animal relationships are "not sufficiently enduring" to enable the usefulness of the trait; and yet altruism in the midst of unfortunate human…

Sources Used in Documents:


Driscoll, C. (2013). Sociobiology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved online:

Wilson, E.O. (2000). Sociobiology. Belknap.

Cite this Document:

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