Biological approach

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Biological approach

Biological influences on behaviour


  • Heredity is the passing of characteristics from one generation to the next through genes

  • Genes carry instructions for a particular characteristic

  • How this characteristic develops partly depends on the interaction of the gene with other genes and partly on the influence of the environment

Genotype and phenotype

  • Genotype

    • The genetic code that is written in the DNA of a cell

  • Phenotype

    • The physical appearance of the DNA

  • E.g. an individual may inherit the recessive gene for blue eyes, but this will not be expressed if they have inherited the dominant gene for brown eyes. In this case, we cannot determine the genotype (one blue eyes, one brown eyes) from just observing the phenotype (brown eyes)

The genetic basis of behaviour

  • Heritability = the amount of variability in a trait within in a different population attributed to genetic differences

The influences of biological structures on behaviour

Neurons and the nervous system

  • Nervous system comprised of:

    •  Central nervous system (CNS) - made up of the brain and spinal cord

    • Peripheral nervous system (PNS) – made up of the somatic and autonomic nervous systems

  • Nervous systems transport messages using individual nerve cells called neurons which transmit nerve impulses in the form of electrical signals

  • Many aspects of behaviour are under neuronal control

    • E.g. breathing

The brain

  • Largest…


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