Psychology 3228A 650 SU23

Evolution and Psychology: The Science of Human Nature

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 

Summer 2023 


Psychology 3228A   Section 650 

Evolution and Psychology: The Science of Human Nature 




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 hours; Course Weight: [0.5] 


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: Madeleine Brodbeck 

Office and Phone Number: SSC7440 

Office Hours: By appointment 



Teaching Assistant: N/A 


Office Hours:  



Time and Location of Classes: Asynchronous   

Delivery Method: Virtual  


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. 




Workman and Reader (2021) Evolutionary Psychology (4th Ed.) Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-1108716468 


This text is required for the course. The online and physical copy are interchangeable. The third edition is also acceptable. It is available at the Campus Bookstore or from other resellers.   




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  


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge.  

  • Identify and describe key concepts in evolutionary theory including natural selection, sexual selection, inclusive fitness theory, life history theory, and parental investment theory  
  • Identify major historical milestones in evolutionary thought and its application to understanding human behaviour 
  • Explore classic subfields of psychology through an evolutionary lens (cognition, memory, language, psychopathology, development, emotion, personality, culture)  



Readings & videos 


Forum participation 



Forum participation 

Knowledge of Methodologies.  

  • Classify explanations for behaviour by their level of analysis and distinguish between different levels of analysis 
  • Classify explanations for behaviour through different schools of thought/disciplines (philosophy, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, social science, etc) 
  • Revisit classic subfields of psychology with an evolutionary lens 


Readings & videos 

Forum participation 



Forum participation 

Application of Knowledge.  

  • Reflect on evolutionary psychology as it pertains to our everyday life  
  • Detect common fallacies that confuse our understanding of human nature 
  • Critique dissemination of evolutionary psychology through news or other media  


Assignments 1 & 2 

Forum participation 

Assignments 1 & 2 


Forum participation 

Communication Skills.  

  • Discussing and generating questions about evolutionary psychology 
  • Writing a critique of the media’s dissemination of evolutionary psychology, whether through news or pop culture 
  • Creating a media piece (written, audio, or visual) based off of evolutionary psychology journal article without committing common fallacies in evolutionary psychology (i.e. properly disseminate science to the general public) 

Forum participation 

Assignments 1 & 2 

Forum participation 

Assignments 1 & 2 

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge. 

  • Exploring the limitations and strengths of an evolutionary approach to human behaviour  
  • Classify explanations for behaviour by their level of analysis and distinguish between different levels of analysis 





Assignment 2 



Assignment 2 

Autonomy and Professional Capacity  

  • Identifying and rejecting traditional racist and misogynistic approaches to evolutionary psychology  
  • Being critical of the media’s dissemination of science 
  • Learning to properly disseminate science to the public without making fallacies or misconstruing findings 



Assignments 1 & 2 

Assignments 1 & 2 



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. 


Forum Participation                                                               5% (0.5% per entry) 


Assignments                                                                         25% (12.5% each) 


Midterm Exam (multiple choice & short answer)                  30%   


Final Exam (multiple choice & short answer)                       40%   


In place of an in-class participation grade, we will use forum participation. Each week I will post questions about the material from that Unit. In total during the course, you will need to post at least 8 responses and 2 questions. You will be randomly assigned two weeks in which you must pose a discussion question. This schedule will be released to you during week 1, where there will be no required questions. Required questions will begin in week 2. Forum questions will be due on your assigned weeks on Wednesdays by 3:00 PM. You can answer your own question and it will count as a response. You are free to pose other questions & answers you have about the material anytime during the course, and it is encouraged. Forum posts will be anonymous to other students. 


Both assignments will have flexibility in topic. Assignment 1 will include a written response (500-700 words) critiquing the media’s dissemination of evolutionary psychology. Assignment 2 will be a media creation piece (video, audio, blog, etc.) or a discussion of the strengths and limitations of evolutionary psychology. Additional information about the assignments will be posted on OWL and will be submitted through OWL. 


Exams are online via OWL, open book, synchronous, and linear, using Proctortrack. 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 short-answer questions. The final will focus primarily on material covered in the second half of the course. Although the final is not cumulative, foundational concepts from the first half of the course do carry-over to the second half of the course. 




Late assignments without discussion with the instructor will be penalized with a 5% per day deduction. An extension to an assignment deadline will be provided to students with an academic accommodation or consideration.  


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. 




Forum participation questions 

Weekly on Wednesdays, 3:00 PM 

Forum participation responses 

July 28, 3:00 PM 

Assignment 1 

June 2, 11:55 PM 

Assignment 2 

July 21, 11:55 PM 

Midterm Examination  

(Online via OWL) 

June 14 

Final Examination  

(Online via OWL) 

Scheduled during final exam period (July 31 - August 3) 






Textbook Readings 

(Additional readings found on OWL)  


Introduction to Evolution 

Chp 1 & 2 


Human Origins, Human Evolution 


Chp 1 & 2 


Sexual Selection  

Human Mate Choice 

Chp 3 & 4 


Social and Romantic Relationships 

Chp 4 & 7 



Chp 5 & 6 


Midterm Exam Week 



Altruism, Kinship and Aggression 

Chp 8 


Cognition, Memory, and Perception 

Chp 9 


Language and Communication  

Chp 10 



Darwinian Medicine 

Chp 12 


Emotion, Personality, and Individual Differences  

Chp 11 & 13 


Cultural Evolution 

Chp 14 




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.