Psychology 3228B 001 FW23

Evolution and Psychology

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.



LONDON               CANADA 

Department of Psychology 



Psychology 3228B    Section 001 

Evolution and Psychology 






A survey of evolutionary approaches to the study of human behavior, including evolutionary psychology. 


Antirequisite: Psychology 3229A/B  


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. If you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course. 


Prerequisite: A mark of at least 60% in 1.0 credits of Psychology at the 1000 level or Biology 1001A and registration in third or fourth year. 


3 lecture/discussion hours; 

Course Weight: 0.50 


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites. 





Instructor: Professor Scott MacDougall-Shackleton 

Office and Phone Number: AFAR 200;   x84629 

Office Hours: TBA 



Teaching Assistant: TBA 


Office Hours:  



Time and Location of Classes: Available on Student Center

Delivery Method: In-Person 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 


2.1 Online Learning Notice: 
Please note: For courses delivered in an online format, include an online component, or are required to pivot online, students must have a reliable internet connection and computer that are compatible with online learning system requirements. Some courses may also require the use of a remote proctoring platform to ensure assessments are taken fairly in accordance with Western’s policy on Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students and Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students. Please refer to the course syllabus for further information. 




Evolution & Psychology, SA MacDougall-Shackleton, SAGE Publishing (text forthcoming 2024) 




This course will examine how the process of biological evolution has shaped human behaviour.  The primary objective will be to impart a deep understanding of how evolutionary processes have impacted human behaviour.  This will involve distinguishing between ultimate and proximate levels of analyses and avoiding superficial rejection or acceptance of evolutionary explanations of human psychology.  Particular attention will be paid to rejecting fallacious thinking about evolution, such as genetic determinism, and to rejecting historical racist approaches. 





Learning Outcome  

Learning Activity  


  1. identify and describe key concepts in evolutionary theory including natural selection, sexual selection, inclusive fitness theory, life history theory, and parental investment theory  
  1. identify major historical milestones in evolutionary thought and its application to understanding human behaviour  



Text readings 

Exams and quizzes 

  1. detect common fallacies that confuse our understanding of human nature  
  1. classify explanations for behaviour by their level of analysis  
  1. critique news articles covering evolutionary psychology  


Readings and Assignments 

Short Written Assignments 




The evaluation and testing formats for this course were created to assess the learning objectives as listed in section 4.0 and are considered necessary for meeting these learning objectives. 



Weekly Online Quizzes (Best 10 of 12) 5% (0.5% each)  

In-class activities (Best 10 of 12) 5% (0.5% each) 

Writing Assignment 10% 

Midterm Exam (multiple choice & short answer) 40%  

Final Exam (multiple choice & short answer) 40%  


Weekly quizzes will consist of 5 questions (multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc). Quizzes will be due 5 PM each Thursday. Quizzes are open-book and are submitted through OWL. The quizzes are designed to be completed in 10 minutes, but you will be allowed 30 minutes to complete them. 


In-class activities will occur every Friday during class time. These will be a variety of active learning exercises that are handed in by the end of class. 


The writing assignment will be a short written response (500 words maximum) to assigned readings and may also involve peer evaluation of other students’ written work. Information about the assignments will be posted on OWL and you will submit assignments through OWL.  


The midterm and final exam will be based on both lecture material and assigned readings. The midterm and final exams will include multiple choice and/or short-answer questions.  






Only the top 10 of the quizzes will be included in the final grade. No make-up quizzes are provided. Because each quiz is worth only 0.5% of your final grade in the course and you may miss up to 2 without penalty. You will receive a score of 0 for any missing quizzes, over and above the dropped two. If you require a longer-term accommodation for a health or wellness concern lasting more than a week, please seek official accommodation by submitting your documentation to the academic counseling office in your home faculty. In these cases, the final quiz grade will be reweighted. 


In-class activities 

Only the top 10 of the weekly activities will be included in the final grade. No make-up activities are provided. Because each activity is worth only 0.5% of your final grade in the course and you may miss up to 2 without penalty. You will receive a score of 0 for any missing activities, over and above the dropped two. If you require a longer-term accommodation for a health or wellness concern lasting more than a week, please seek official accommodation by submitting your documentation to the academic counseling office in your home faculty. In these cases, the final activity grade will be reweighted. 



Written assignments will be available for at least 3 weeks prior to the due date. Students who miss the deadline for a valid reason approved by their academic counsellor will receive an extension of 48 hours to submit their assignment. Otherwise a grade of zero will be applied. 



Makeup exams will be provided only to students with accommodations from their academic counsellor. Makeup exams will be scheduled at a time following the original exam date. Students unable to complete either the original or makeup exam will take the exam the next time the course is offered. 


See Section 11 for information on seeking accommodations. Please note the Western policy that instructors are not permitted to receive documentation directly from a student, whether in support of an application for medical grounds, or for other reasons. All documentation required for absences that are not covered by the absence reporting policy must be submitted to the Academic Counselling Office of a student’s home faculty.   



This course is exempt from the Senate requirement that students receive assessment of their work accounting for at least 15% of their final grade at least three full days before the date of the deadline for withdrawal from a course without academic penalty. 


The expectation for course grades within the Psychology Department is that they will be distributed around the following averages: 


70% 1000-level to 2099-level courses 

72% 2100-2999-level courses 

75% 3000-level courses 

80% 4000-level courses 


The Psychology Department follows Western’s grading guidelines, which are as follows (see: 


A+ 90-100 One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level 

A 80-89 Superior work that is clearly above average 

B 70-79 Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory 

C 60-69 Competent work, meeting requirements 

D 50-59 Fair work, minimally acceptable 

F below 50 Fail 


Note that in the event that course grades are significantly higher or lower than these averages, instructors may be required to make adjustments to course grades. Such adjustment might include the normalization of one or more course components and/or the re-weighting of various course components. 


Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 




Quizzes: Available each Monday and due each Thursday by 5PM 

In-class activities: Due in-class each Friday 

Written Assignment: Topic selection due: Feb 2, 2024 

Assignment due: Mar 15, 2024 

Midterm Exam: Feb 27, 2024, 7-9PM 

Final Exam: To be scheduled during April Exam period 




Tentative Schedule: Check OWL site for updates. 






Week 1 

Jan 8-12 

Quiz 1 


Week 2 

Jan 15-19 

Quiz 2 

Natural Selection 

Week 3 

Jan 22-26 

Quiz 3 

Human Origins 

Week 4 

Jan 29-Feb 2 

Quiz 4 

Evolutionary Approaches to Psychology 

Week 5 

Feb 5-9 

Quiz 5 

Mate Choice 

Week 6 

Feb 12-16 

Quiz 6 

Families and Kin Selection 

Reading Week 

Feb 17-25 

Midterm Exam  

Feb 27 evening 


Week 7 

Feb 26-Mar 1 

Quiz 7 

Living in Social Groups 

Week 8 

Mar 4-8 

Quiz 8 

Perception and Cognition 

Week 9 

Mar 11-15 

Quiz 9 


Week 10 

Mar 18-22 

Quiz 10 


Week 11 

Mar 25-29 

Quiz 11 

Motivation & Emotion, Personality 

Week 12 

Apr 1-5 

Quiz 12 

Culture and Evolution 



Final Exam 







We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. 


With this, we respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation, as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service. 





Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offences. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offences because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offence are described at the following link: 


As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offences. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and ( 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams will be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 


In classes that involve the use of a personal response system (PRS), data collected using the PRS will only be used in a manner consistent to that described in this outline. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make every effort to ensure that data remain confidential. However, students should be aware that as with all forms of electronic communication, privacy is not guaranteed. Your PRS login credentials are for your sole use only. Students attempting to use another student’s credentials to submit data through the PRS may be subject to academic misconduct proceedings.  


Possible penalties for a scholastic offence include failure of the assignment/exam, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University. 



Tests and examinations for online courses will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded.  Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 

In the event that in-person exams are unexpectedly canceled, you may only be given notice of the use of a proctoring service a short time in advance. 






Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 


If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation. 


Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on OWL for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
  • please use your computer and/or laptop if possible (as opposed to a cell phone or tablet) 
  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
  • to minimize background noise, kindly mute your microphone for the entire class until you are invited to speak, unless directed otherwise 
  • In classes larger than 30 participants please turn off your video camera for the entire class unless you are invited to speak 
  • In classes of 30 students or fewer, where video chat procedures are being used, please be prepared to turn your video camera off at the instructor’s request if the internet connection becomes unstable 
  • Unless invited by your instructor, do not share your screen in the meeting 


The course instructor will act as moderator for the class and will deal with any questions from participants. To participate please consider the following: 

  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
  • Please remember to unmute your microphone and turn on your video camera before speaking. 
  • Self-identify when speaking. 
  • Please remember to mute your mic and turn off your video camera after speaking (unless directed otherwise). 


General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
  • Be courteous toward the instructor, your colleagues, and authors whose work you are discussing. 
  • Be respectful of the diversity of viewpoints that you will encounter in the class and in your readings. The exchange of diverse ideas and opinions is part of the scholarly environment. “Flaming” is never appropriate. 
  • Be professional and scholarly in all online postings. Use proper grammar and spelling. Cite the ideas of others appropriately. 


Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 




Office of the Registrar:   


Student Development Services:  


Psychology Undergraduate Program: 


If you wish to appeal a grade, please read the policy documentation at: 

Please first contact the course instructor. If your issue is not resolved, you may make your appeal to the Undergraduate Chair in Psychology ( 


Copyright Statement: Lectures and course materials, including power point presentations, outlines, videos and similar materials, are protected by copyright. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own educational use. You may not record lectures, reproduce (or allow others to reproduce), post or distribute any course materials publicly and/or for commercial purposes without the instructor’s written consent. 


Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.