Heredity is the genes that we acquired from our parents when we were conceived and cannot be controlled by anyone as of yet. You inherit certain genes from each parent that creates a new genetic combination that creates a unique person. (Hemandez, 2008)
Hormones however are responsible for many of our human functions which include our metabolism, development, growth, reproduction and sexual desire. They also impact human behavior and mood. (Hemandez, 2008)
Where Heredity creates who the person is, Hormones regulates how the person functions. This functioning is controlled by the Endocrine system, which controls the release of Hormones into the bloodstream.
The Pituitary gland is located on the underside of the brain and is connected to the hypothalamus. It produces the largest number of different hormones so it has the largest range of effects on the body’s functions. It’s often called the “master gland” because of its influential role in regulating other endocrine glands. The Pituitary influences thirst, blood pressure, sexual behavior, body growth, and other functions. (Maisto, 2010)
The Pineal gland is a pea-sized gland located in the middle of the brain. It secretes the hormone Melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. (Maisto, 2010) The Thyroid gland is located just below the larynx and produces one primary hormone, Thyroxin, which regulates the body’s rate of metabolism and thus, how alert and energetic people are and how fat or thin they tend to be. If a person has too little Thyroxin they tend to feel constantly tired and wanting to sleep, if they have too much, or have an overactive Thyroid they can have a variety of symptoms such as over excitability, insomnia, and reduced attention span. (Maisto, 2010)
The Parathyroid is four tiny organs that are embedded in the thyroid gland that control the balance and levels of calcium and phosphate in the body, which in turn influences the levels of excitability. (Maisto, 2010)
The Pancreas is found in a curve between the stomach and the small intestine. It controls the level of sugar in the blood by secreting two hormones to regulate these levels, Insulin and Glucagon. These two hormones work against each other to keep the blood-sugar level balanced. Underproduction of insulin will lead to Diabetes, which is a chronic disorder in which the person has too much sugar in their blood and urine. If there is Over-secretion of insulin the person will suffer from hypoglycemia, which is a condition where there is too little sugar in the blood. (Maisto, 2010)
There are two Adrenal Glands that are located just above the kidneys. They each have two parts, and inner core, called the adrenal medulla and the outer layer, called the adrenal cortex. Both the adrenal medulla and the adrenal cortex affect the body’s reaction to stress. The Adrenal cortex pours several hormones into the blood stream when it’s stimulated by the autonomic nervous system. One of these is epinephrine which activates the sympathetic nervous system. (Maisto, 2010)
The Gonads are also known as the Testes in males and the Ovaries in females, secrete hormones that have traditionally been classified as masculine (the androgens) and feminine (the estrogens). (Maisto, 2010) One hormone produced in the Gonads of males is Testosterone, and in females is Estrogen. Genetics is the study of how living things pass on traits from one generation to the next. (Maisto, 2010) We aren’t carbon copies of our parents, but we have some of their traits that will reappear from one generation to the next in predictable patterns.
Behavior genetics is the study of the relationship between heredity and behavior. It focuses on the extent to which heredity accounts for individual differences in behavior and thinking. (Maisto, 2010)
Evolutionary Psychology is the study of evolutionary roots of behaviors and mental processes that all human beings share. (Maisto, 2010) As you can see Hormones and Heredity are closely related but vary greatly in relation to their functions. To understand one, you must understand the other, as they go hand in hand.