Biological Perspective




Part 1

Part 2

Part 3



We can thank Charles Darwin (1859) for ushering in the idea that genetics and evolution play a role in affecting many human qualities including personality. Theorists in the biological perspective who study behavioral genomics consider how genes affect behavior. Now that the human genome is mapped, perhaps, we will someday understand more precisely how behavior and personality is affected by the DNA we inherit.

There is much that could be said about the biological perspective as it covers a wide range of theories and theorists. One early theorist (Sheldon, 1942) argued that body type affects personality; this is where the idea of the 3 body types came from - the mesomorph (muscular, assertive type), the ectomorph (slender, book worm type) and the endomorph (roly-poly, good-natured type). More recently, a group of theorists called evolutionary psychologists have introduced ideas that are wrought with controversy. For example, one such psychologist, Randy Thornhill, utilizes Darwin's theory of natural selection to argue that rape is a natural instinct.

Most of us would agree that certain temperaments seem to be apparent in people even from birth and are sustained to some degree throughout the life span. The active baby becomes the over achieving adult (or at least that's what my Mom tells me!). I bet you aren't surprised to learn that researchers like Buss and Plomin (1984) have considered which temperaments have a genetic basis. The following 4 basic aspects of temperament have been described: activity level, emotionality, sociability, and impulsivity. Interesting studies conducted on identical twins would seem to suggest that there is a genetic basis for these temperaments.


Go online and use a search engine such as Google or use the Eureka system for the CSUS library to locate information on biological temperaments and personality. Find an article that was published within the last 5 years and make a copy of the first page of the article to hand in to the instructor. Or, if you prefer, give me the URL for this article; you can copy and paste it into a word document which is always a good practice.

Download and complete the Biological Temperament Questionnaire; hand this in to your instructor along with the article page or URL described above and you have completed the Biological component of Part 1.

If you are finished with this component, you may proceed to the Psychoanalytic Perspective.