Heritability In Psychology Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Behavior, Psychology, Perspective, Information, Twins, Study, Biology, Democracy

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/10/13


Heritability pertains to the measure of the variability of behavioral traits across individuals within populations. Note that Heritability is population construct, which means that its measures are not meant to predict or determine what behavioral traits of an individual can be attributed to genetic factors. It can only be applied to individuals across population. In the video “Body Doubles” the main topic that was discussed is the heritability among identical twins. This means that the studied group for heritability is the population of twins. Some of the heritable traits that were observed across the population are: almost the same thoughts, and the same attire. Note that these observations are not in the individual level; such as, why a pair of twins would choose red colored clothes over other colors. Another point that needs to be known about heritability is that, it is not fate. This means that heritability measurements tells the present behavioral traits that are attributable to genes, it does not tell how these behavioral traits may vary or how individuals would respond to diverse stimuli in the future. In other words heritability tells us what “is” and not what “can be.” To emphasize this point, consider the Wright brothers in the “Body Doubles” video. They do almost all things together – this is something that they were presently doing. There is nothing in the video, however, that shows if this behavioral trait will remain if some events in the environment occur – like someone finds a woman to marry. Viewed from this perspective, it can be concluded that heritability could not be used for psychological treatment of patients. It is a subject in science that is of very little use at present.

The Behavioral and Biological Perspectives

Identical twins are of special interest among researchers of heritability due to their genetic make-up; they are clones of each other in the sense that their physical characteristics have very high similarities. There are two perspectives used by researchers, particularly psychologists, in studying heritability among identical twins. The first is the biological perspective. This perspective focuses on the behavioral response of subjects to different stimuli. It usually focus on the stimuli and the conditions that triggers the response; in other words, it focuses on the environment. The second perspective is the biological perspective. This perspective focuses on the electrical or biochemical processes associated with the functions of the brain and mind. It literally traces behavior to the electrical signals sent through the brains and the different chemical reactions that trigger them (Schacter Text, n.d.). A researcher who would use the behavioral perspective would explain that Jerry and Mark had different degrees of exposure to the stimuli found in the environment which would have different effects on their behavior. On the other hand a researcher who uses the biological perspective would explain that perhaps there have been differences in the degree of hormonal secretions between the Jerry and Mark, which could therefore explain the differences between their behaviors (University of Michigan, 2012).

Research and Ethics

Researchers also follow certain rules in conducting such studies. It is an important factor to consider in performing experiments or gathering data. Nevertheless, not all researchers agree with this idea. There are researchers who believe that subjects of the research should maintain their freedom throughout the conduct of the research. By freedom, it meant that they are not forced to participate into the experiment or research – that they exercise their own will. Such research which highlighted freedom in the side of the subject is the study conducted by Bouchard, Lykken, McGue, Segal & Tellegen, (1990), wherein, the subjects themselves were then ones to contact the researchers to participate in the study. Other researchers, on the other hand, believe that coercion can be exercised. Coercion means that the subjects of the research can be forced, either physically or through threats. Most of the modern day experiments follow certain ethical principles in conducting studies. Such principle is the maintaining of the subjects confidentiality. The Experiments conducted by the Nazi during the Second World War are examples of coercions. The experience of Eva and Miriam Kohr under the Mengele's Experiments is an example of coercion, because the twins together with the other thousands of twins were not given the freedom to chose whether they wanted to participate in the experiment or not.
In order to maintain the freedom of the research subjects, researchers could use informed consent. Inform consent means that the subject is informed of the risks or dangers that the research could bring to him or her. The subject is then given the choice to continue participating in the research. For the subjects to fully understand the consequences of the research, they must be presented with the risk/benefit analysis. This form is provided by the researcher. It contains all the possible risks or damages that the research could inflict on the subject, it also contains information about the worth or the benefits that could be derived there from. This is shown in the modern day study done in the video “Body Doubles” where the researcher simply observed the twins behaviors. The parents of the twins were also informed of the observations.

My Stand on Unethically Derived Data

Today, there is a contention among researchers whether it is ethical to use the information gathered through unethical means. Such information are those that were gathered from the Mangele's research. In my opinion, we can still use such information but only for limited cases. It was noted earlier that one of the perspective is the biological perspective. Studies done through this perspective would usually require chemical analysis. Chemical analysis are not or insignificantly governed by emotions; hence, the findings or results that could be derived from them are useful and reliable. Such information, whether they have gathered from unethical manner should be used, because they are more likely correct. The other perspective, which is the behavioral perspective, makes use of observed behaviors. Behaviors, which are manifested through actions, could be made-up. The subject could pretend or make-up his or her reactions to stimuli, especially if he or she was just forced to participate in the experiment; hence, such data should no longer be used today. Note that I am not saying that it is okay to use coercion in conducting research at present. One of the purposes of ethics in research is to make the data more reliable and accurate. Hence, based from this purpose, there is no reason why we cannot use data derived through unethical means as long as those data are correct. Another purpose of ethics is to preserve the integrity of the subject. In this case we should not longer use unethical means for current studies. Moreover, for practicality's sake, we cannot just throw such important findings from previous unethical studies. We can use their data but we should also condemn the unethical methods. In my opinion we should deal with the experimenter or the researcher differently from the data that they have gathered. We can condone one while condemning the other.


Bouchard, T., Lykken, D., McGue, M., Segal, N., & Tellegen,A. (1990). Are You a 'Natural”? Sources of human psychological differences: The Minnesota study of twins reared apart. Science, 250, 223-229.
Schacter Text. Powerpoint Presentations for the Course: PSYCH 111 060 W15 . Retrieved from: https://ctools.umich.edu/portal/site/ceabeb3e-199f-497e-b3e2-321a83e482bf/page/356ba5dd-90f0-4218-9612-650f560c63ef

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Heritability In Psychology Essay Sample. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/heritability-in-psychology-essay-sample/. Published Oct 13, 2020. Accessed November 28, 2022.

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