I am a Bachelor of Arts psychology major so I have not had to take many other science classes outside of my major. I can’t think of many specific instances of addressing evolution in my psychology classes, but there is a perspective in psychology called evolutionary psychology. While I think there are a lot of valid ideas in evolutionary psychology, I do not agree that almost all of the behavior of humans today is based on what would be beneficial for survival. Human variability is a huge part of psychology though. One of the main goals in psychology is to understand the human mind and what makes individuals who they are.
I recently heard about a genetic test that you can take to find out which types of medicine will work best for you, based on your genetic makeup. I had not considered the importance of DNA when it comes to prescribing medicines for people, but it makes a lot of sense that genetic makeup would be one reason that not all medicines work the same for everyone. This could turn out to be important for psychiatrists when prescribing medication for people with mental health disorders. There are so many medications out there now, especially for common disorders like anxiety and depression. A majority of people end up trying multiple medications before finding one that works well for them without a lot of negative side effects. If we are able to test patients’ genetic makeup and use that to give them a better medication for them, that would be a huge change in the field.
I thought the quote in the beginning of the Alters and Alters PDF from a developmental psychologist, that understanding evolution is critical to being able to understand our world, was very interesting. I had never thought about the importance of evolution in modern day psychology but it makes a lot of sense. The better we understand how genes are related to mental disorders, the better understand we will have about what causes mental disorders. There are a lot of genetic risks for many mental health disorders but exactly how much DNA influences these disorders is still largely unknown.
The videos and readings this week have made me think differently about the importance of evolution. I now see a much greater need for an understanding of the evolutionary process in not only my field of psychology but also in my everyday life. One article discussed the threat of bacteria and viruses that are becoming immune to our medicines. This is a serious threat to humans internationally. I think we need more global education about what people can do to help prevent the forming of these super viruses. I was always taught evolution in school while I was growing up so I was surprised to learn how many schools avoid the subject. I think public schools should be required to teach evolution in science classes so our society as a whole will have a good understanding of this important subject.