DSST General Anthropology Practice Questions Answer Key

1. B: Participant observation is a research method used primarily in behavioral research fields such as cultural anthropology, where hypotheses can be developed and tested by observing humans in natural settings. Since physical anthropologists study biological, rather than behavioral traits, participant observation is not typically used in this subfield. This research method is also impractical for archaeologists, who study historical cultures, and for anthropologists who focus on language studies.

2. B: A study that compares and contrasts the modern kinship structures of Southeast Asian societies would be categorized best as ethnological research. Ethnographic research involves in-depth studies of individual societies, while ethnological research compares and contrasts multiple societies to test generalizations about human behavior. Archaeologists study historical (not modern) societies, and physical anthropologists study human physical traits, rather than social structures.

3. C: Primary sources are original written documents that were created during the time under study. Primary documents are both cultural and linguistic artifacts, so they may be used by linguists, archaeologists, or cultural anthropologists. Although some archaeologists study societies that had no written language, other archaeologists study societies that did have written language, and thus produced valuable primary sources. Paleoanthropologists typically examine physical artifacts such as fossils, rather than cultural or linguistic artifacts.

4. A: Julian Steward pioneered the theory of cultural ecology in his 1955 work Theory of Culture Change: The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution. He argued that societies’ ecological surroundings play an important role in their development and that environmental changes produce concurrent cultural changes.

5. D: Theorists from both traditions argue that culture strongly influences human behavior. Cultural relativists argue that individual beliefs and behaviors are influenced by culture, and thus must be understood within this context. Cultural determinists argue that individuals’ behavior and attitudes are determined by their culture. Since both theories suggest a unidirectional flow of causation from culture to individual behavior, neither provides a sound explanation of societal change.

6. B: According to the theory of Mendelian inheritance, individuals have two factors (genes) for each trait, one from their father and one from their mother. Each factor consists of one of two possible alleles, and the alleles contributed by the two parents may be identical or discrepant.

7. C: An individual’s phenotype is the product of both the individual’s genotype and environmental factors. A genotype consists entirely of the genes that an individual inherits from both parents, and the individual’s phenotype consists of the traits that make up his or her actual physical appearance. Since the expression of certain genes is influenced by environmental factors, the phenotype is a product of both the genotype and intervening environmental factors.

8. B: A genetic mutation that occurs because a mistake is made when a person’s cells replicate, or is due to environmental factors like exposure to radiation, is called a somatic mutation. Hereditary mutations are mutations passed from parent to child through sex cells, while mutation of somatic (body) cells occurs due to mistakes in replication or interference from environmental factors. De novo mutations are spontaneous mutations in sex cells.

9. D: Selective breeding is most likely to have a negative impact on the diversity of a gene pool. Selective breeding, also called non-random mating, can decrease the diversity of a gene pool by eliminating less “popular” genes and encouraging in-breeding. Genetic mutations and gene migration (the reunification of a species that has undergone genetic drift) both contribute to genetic diversity. So does adaptive radiation, which is the process of intra-species diversification through natural selection.

10. A: Genetic drift is usually caused by geographic separation of the members of a species, not variations in blood chemistry. When members of a species are separated, voluntarily or otherwise, natural selection causes them to develop increasingly distinct traits. If this process continues for an extended period, the two groups may lose the ability to produce offspring with each other, thus resulting in two distinct species. If they are reunited, however, gene migration can occur.


Last Updated: June 3, 2019