Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
sociology masthead
Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Spring 2008

SOC 308 • Biology, Personality and Social Life--ADDED COURSE

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46410 MWF
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
NOA 1.110

Course Description

Human beings are diverse, complex creatures. Some are outgoing and talkative, while others are reserved and quiet. Some are happy and content, while others are nervous and distressed. Research has even shown that attitudes such as empathy and altruism also vary across individuals, as do risky, prosocial, and addictive behaviors. But why do such differences exist? This course will address this question by providing a broad introduction to the causes and consequences of personality differences. It will begin by exploring the possible biological foundation of personality traits and related outcomes--e.g., extraversion, agreeableness, empathy, altruism, aggression, and addiction, to name just a few--but will focus largely on the connection between these characteristics and social relationships at the interpersonal, organizational, and cultural levels. The course has three main objectives: (1) to provide you with an overview of personality and social life; (2) to develop your understanding of the scientific process; and (3) to supply you with knowledge that may help to enhance your psychological well-being, improve the quality of your social relationships, and allow you to function more productively in modern society.

Grading Policy

(a) comprehensive final exam 30%
(b) a library-based research paper of approximately 12-15 pages (30%: 5% prospectus, 25% final product)
(c) an empirical research paper (e.g., participant observation, intensive interviews, survey analysis, etc.) of similar length (30%: 5% prospectus, 25% final product)
(d) class participation, including regular attendance, advance preparation of the readings for discussion, and possibly even a brief presentation of item (c) during one of the final class periods 10%


(selected readings)
Alford, John R., Carolyn L. Funk, and John R. Hibbing, 2005, "Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?" American Political Science Review, 99: 153-167
Axelrod, Robert, and William D. Hamilton, 1981, "The Evolution of Cooperation," Science 211: 1390-1396
Bradshaw, Matt, Unpublished Manuscript, "Do Genetic Factors Influence Civic Engagement: If So, Are They Mediated by Personality and Interpersonal Characteristics?"
Bouchard Jr., Thomas J., and John C. Loehlin, 2001, "Genes, Evolution, and Personality," Behavior Genetics, 31: 243-273
Eysenck, H.J., 1990, "Biological Dimensions of Personality,"Pp. 244-276 in Handbook of Personality Theory and Research, edited by L. Pervin. Guilford
Kirkpatrick, Lee A., 1999, "Toward an Evolutionary Psychology of Religion and Personality," Journal of Personality, 67: 921-952
Newberg, Andrew, Eugene d'Aquili, and Vince Rause, 2002, Why God Won't Go Away, Ballantine Books, (Selected Chapters)
Ryckman, Richard M., 2004, 'Personality and the Scientific Outlook," Pp. 2-25 in Theories of Personality, Wadsworth
Taylor, Shelley E., 2002, The Tending Instinct, Times Books, (Selected Chapters)


bottom border