Psychology 3228A-001

Evoluation 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.


A survey of evolutionary approaches to the study of human behaviour, including evolutionary psychology.


Antirequisite: Psychology 3229A/B


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So 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.


Prerequisites: Psychology 1000 or Biology 1001 with a minimum grade of 60%, and registration in third or fourth year.

3 lecture/discussion hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll 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: Caroline Strang       

                Office and Phone Number:  SSC 8242    

                Office Hours: By appointment  



                Teaching Assistant: Jordan Phelps         

                Office:      TBA        

                Office Hours: By appointment  



Time and Location of Classes:   Wednesday 11:30 - 2:30pm, HSB 35

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

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 wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Workman and Reader (2014) Evolutionary Psychology (3rd Ed.) Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-1- 107-62273-9 

This text is required for the course, but students may also use the second edition of the textbook.


This course will examine how the biological processes of evolution have 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.


By the end of the course, the successful student will be able to:

-       Describe the theory of evolution and its relationship to human behaviour (assessed by midterm and final exams)

-       Interpret human behaviour in the context of evolutionary history (assessed by exams and assignments)

-       Critically read a scientific text and extract important and relevant information (assessed with weekly quizzes on textbook material)



Your final mark will be based on a combination of the following: 

Weekly Quizzes (Best 10 of 12):         10% (1% each)

Assignments (Best 4 of 5):             20% (5% each)

Midterm Quiz:                    30%

Final Exam:                     40%

Weekly quizzes will consist of 5 multiple-choice questions that are based strictly off the readings in advance of the lecture for that week. Quizzes will be due at the end of each week (Sunday 11:59pm). There is a strict policy that quizzes are not accepted after the due date and will be given a grade of zero. There are no make-ups for missed quizzes. Only the best 10 of 12 will count towards your final grade. Quizzes are open-book, 30 minutes in duration, and are submitted through OWL. You can still complete the quizzes with the second edition of the textbook. 

Assignments will typically revolve around an assigned reading and may be in either a ‘quiz’ format (multiple choice, matching and short answer), or a ‘thought paper’ format (700 word max). Information about the assignments will be posted on OWL and you will submit assignments through OWL. There is a strict policy that late assignments will not be accepted and given a grade of zero. There are no make-ups for a missed assignment. Only the best 4 of 5 assignments will count towards your final grade. 

The midterm and final exam will be based on both lecture material and assigned readings from the textbook. Both exams will be approximately 75% multiple choice and 25% short-answer. 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.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 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


Midterm Exam: In class – October 8


Final Exam: TBA in Final exam period (December 10-21)


The assigned readings below are a general outline. Check the OWL for the updates and more specific information about that week’s readings that are required for the weekly quiz. 





Readings & Assignments


Sept 13

Introduction Evolution

Chapter 1


Sept 20

Natural Selection
Human Origins

Chapter 2; Pgs. 90-96 (3rd Edition)

Assignment 1: Due Sept 24 @ Midnight


Sept 27

Sexual Selection

Human Mate Choice

Chapter 3; 

Chapter 4

Assignment 2 Due: Oct 1 @ Midnight


Oct 4

Cognitive Development

Chapter 5

Oct 11


Oct 18


Weeks 1-4


Oct 25

Social Development
Kin Selection and families

Chapter 6; Chapter 7


Nov 1

Cooperation and Reciprocity

Chapter 8


Nov 8

Evolution, Cognition and Memory

Chapter 9

Assignment 3 Due: Nov 12 @ Midnight


Nov 15

Emotion, Competition and Violence
Individual Differences

Chapter 11, Chapter 13


Nov 22

Darwinian Medicine

Chapter 12

Assignment 4 Due: Nov 26 @ Midnight


Nov 29


Chapter 10

Assignment 5 Due: Dec 3 @ Midnight


Dec 6

Cultural Evolution
Biogeography and Human History

Chapter 14


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. 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

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.