3.2  Human Nature                              [last revised 5/2014, 6/2014, 6/2015, 9/2018]

3.2  Human Nature
3.2.0 Instincts in humans1 – summary        [added 8/2015]
3.2.1 Basic understanding of human behavior
3.2.2 Instincts and learning within a culture
3.2.3 Development of humans; instincts and empathy
3.2.4 Learning; formation of groups, rank orders and perception of people’s inequality
3.2.5 Social instincts; differences between the sexes in patriarchal cultures
3.2.6 Cultures leading to perception of groups becoming more evolved subspecies

3.2.0 Instincts in humans1 – summary
We feel higher instincts that are activated and perceive them as will or emotions, feelings that seek some physical expression, Instinctive responses including inherent more or less complex movement patterns, developed over millions of years. Humans share most instincts with other primates, mammals and more distant vertebrates. The rational mind’s role is important in interpreting the past, manipulating data and foreseeing aspects of the future, but conscious thinking serves mostly pursuits of emotion driven goals or instincts. The rational mind may foresee catastrophic outcomes and mobilize emotions that counter the at the time dominant emotion: in this way the rational mind may help stop dangerous behaviors, but it does not directly choose actions.

Instincts with their associated feelings are the basis of motivation and enjoyments. People become driven by positive anticipation, expectation of direct or indirect instinct fulfillment, and there is little consideration of likely or certain future pain and deprivation. Fear reactions and other negative stimuli are generally weaker than motivation derived from positive anticipation; in most cases, avoidance responses are temporary unless they are associated with an inherent propensity to fear, such as fear of spider- and rat-like animals, snakes, fire, deep water, height, and fear of abandonment.
Instinct behaviors are usually initiated by environmental stimuli or triggers. The motoric system responds first with readiness to move (the terms ’emotion’ and ‘motivation’ are derived from the ‘motion’ or moving); then we feel the instinctive tension and desire or urge; with minimal delay we then may either stop an as impulsive perceived reaction or try justifying it. Whether or not the urge to follow an instinct wins over objections of rational considerations with activated opposing emotions, we believe that we exercise free will.

In higher mammals, many instincts are raw inclinations that have to be refined and adapted to the local environment. These adaptations are passed down to young animals; to survive and to find mates, they must learn, first in play, later by imitating older ones.
Examples of important instincts in humans:
– In a hierarchy of instincts, feeling bonded to some individual, feeling and expressing love, and having a sense of belonging to a family, other small group and/or clan, is most important; without loving touch babies will not eat and thrive even if other biological needs are fulfilled. In maturity, a mate may partly meet this instinctive need; for many people animals are also helpful.
– Small groups feel instinctively exclusive: there is an inherent propensity to us-versus-them thinking, ‘them’ or ‘others’ being perceived as enemies, as irrelevant or as objects to be exploited.
– There is a powerful instinct to follow traditions, even though individuals may temporarily rebel in adolescence. This instinct has blocked or greatly slowed progress.
– Humans and some other highly evolved animals, mostly the animals humans domesticated for exploitation, are instinctively docile and readily follow directions, if disobedience is punished. While most animals will not reproduce when abused and living in unnatural environments, humans and our domesticated animals keep producing offspring while caged and cruelly abused.
– Most social instincts are, in usual circumstances, directly beneficial in promoting ethical living.
– Humans instincts address need for food and water, rank order, territory with protected areas (shelters), possessions, fairness with reciprocity, close friendship connections within groups, pairing and sex, etc.
– Aggression is a tool instinct that primarily serves other instincts, particularly establishing and defending territory and rank, and exploring. It also is used in revenge that is often a consequence of seeking ‘fairness.’ In adults, it is almost always problematic.
– The sexual instinct is in males readily coupled with aggression or dominance, in females with fear or submissiveness. In higher animals, at least when they reach some maturity, sex is more intensely associated with caring social instincts, which people need to foster during adolescence.
Cultures shape expressions of instincts; cultural behaviors indirectly express and fulfill instincts; arts transfer instinctive conflicts to other sense spheres and sublimate them. Folklore, stories, TV watching, games and particularly video games have a strong influence on how people tend to strengthen and express instincts.
Use of instincts strengthens them, nonuse weakens them; expressing instincts ‘safely’ in play-acting and enjoying memories still strengthens them. Continuously distracting from stimuli and never enjoying actual or imagined instinct fulfillment weakens instincts.
The sum of triggering stimuli and corresponding motoric-emotional responses create the instinctual system. In biology the term emotional response generally means an inborn automatic response to a stimulus that initiates an instinct, a specific inborn behavior pattern, which is more complex than a simple reflex. In primitive emotions or instincts and in animals with a less developed nervous system, associated changes in the vegetative nervous system and muscle tone may not be felt as specific feeling and as instinctual tension. In common language the term instinct generally refers to the tension, urge or anticipation that is followed by the instinctive behavior; the term ’emotion’ generally refers to the associated feeling state.
Instincts are inborn simple or complex patterns of movements that are generally inhibited and are activated by stimuli if the nervous system is ready to respond to the stimulus with the instinctive behavior. The more specific and powerful a stimulus, the more likely it is to overcome the normal inhibition of the instinct; and the longer an instinct has not been exercised, the more likely the inhibition is low. However if an instinct is not used and the individual survives, the instinct eventually becomes weak and unresponsive to triggers. Examples: edible fruits are stimuli triggering a response of picking and eating them; many smells, colors, sounds, body shapes and movements are stimuli triggering care giving behaviors, others may trigger aggression or a hunting instinct. Many instincts are activated and practiced in play behaviors and they are modified through experience and learning including cultural education. Many stimuli such as sounds and smells become associated with natural triggering stimuli; before long they will also trigger the emotional responses.
In humans and higher animals, responses to stimuli and the instinctual behaviors that they trigger cause changes in the body (inner organs, muscles, etc.) that are mapped in the brain and experienced as specific feeling states (for instance a feeling of tenderness or fear); they follow the initiation of instinctive behaviors, they do not cause the actions. Stimulus responses and instincts are reinforced through specific processes in the brain causing the brain to seek and initiate efforts for opportunities to express instincts; or, in the case of fear, the provoking stimuli generally cause avoidance behaviors.
Our emotional-instinctual system evolved for survival in social systems that were very different from our current civilizations. In efforts to develop peaceful, progressive. humane civilizations, we need to rely on a scientific understanding of our emotional-behavioral system and science-based ethics. Institutions are to guide our ‘moral center’ and instinctual systems towards ethical values and ethical expressions of emotions.

3.2.1 Basic understanding of human behavior [added 8/2015]:
– Animals/humans are positively motivated, governed primarily by emotions (which are essentially instincts – ’emotion’ means ‘what leads to motion’), not by the rational mind; suffering before and/or after pursued event is not perceived as very important.
– Instincts (emotions) are feelings that include urge to express themselves physically in body posture, movements, etc. Instincts basically are raw inborn action patterns: there is internal readiness but also inhibition that has to be decreased/overcome by key stimuli (or triggers) in the environment (occasionally a stimulus is imagined, resulting from memories or due to intense frustration: animals may seemingly chase imagined objects.). Play and experiences refine the recognition of environment specific triggers and ways of fulfilling instincts. Cultures modify, strengthen, or weaken instincts or pervert their expression. Everything associated with stimuli and with seeking and reaching instinct fulfillment becomes “normal” or positive and may acquire trigger function. next paragraph moved from end of section
– If instincts are not fulfilled, very unspecific stimuli may lead to the response. There is often appetence behavior, that is, looking for stimuli or triggers for a specific or any instinct. Stimuli that lead to instinct fulfillment, and perceptions that are associated with them are perceived as positive, beautiful, etc. Instincts are strengthened by use, exposure to stimuli, imagined and vicarious use, and by enjoying memories; non-use, avoiding triggers and memories, etc. eventually weakens an instinct until it is irrelevant, but it may be revived.
– Humans/primates have some predispositions to fear, examples: rat-, snake- and spider-like animals, fire, height, deep water, and fear of abandonment; most “modern” dangers do not impress people.
– Humans are opportunistic. Throughout the evolution of humans and their cultures, individuals have followed social instincts within groups but often deceived, assaulted, and exploited outsiders or ‘others.’ In groups more than as individuals, humans have usually been very violent, raiding neighbors (stealing women, animals and transportable goods) and killing as revenge in cowardly ways (i.e. when attackers had advantage in numbers and/or while enemies slept); if humans appeared courageous, it was mostly to defend immediate family or group, to impress others, and sometimes in impulsive revenge. People who may help in one’s pursuits are intuitively perceived as friends and as ‘good’; people who compete tend to be seen as ‘bad.’
– The rational mind cannot directly guide actions though it thinks ahead, often helps in emotional pursuits, and sometimes tries to stop behaviors if seemingly moving towards disaster – the rational mind then tries to find and mobilize more powerful countering emotions. Usually, external and internal stimuli move the body towards action; the body’s response is largely responsible for feelings, while thoughts supporting the actions are usually the last step.
– In the process of attempting to be ‘right’ and ‘important’, people devised cultures, cultural ways of doing things, specifying what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and for what reasons, explaining natural phenomena, etc.

3.2.1 Basic understanding of human behavior                    [added 8/2015]
– Animals/humans are positively motivated, governed primarily by emotions (which are essentially instincts – ’emotion’ means ‘what leads to motion’), not by the rational mind; suffering before and/or after pursued event is not perceived as very important.
– Instincts (emotions) are feelings that include urge to express themselves physically in body posture, movements, etc. Instincts basically are raw inborn action patterns: there is internal readiness but also inhibition that has to be decreased/overcome by key stimuli (or triggers) in the environment (occasionally a stimulus is imagined, resulting from memories or due to intense frustration: animals may seemingly chase imagined objects.). Play and experiences refine the recognition of environment specific triggers and ways of fulfilling instincts. Cultures modify, strengthen, or weaken instincts or pervert their expression. Everything associated with stimuli and with seeking and reaching instinct fulfillment becomes “normal” or positive and may acquire trigger function. next paragraph moved from end of section
– If instincts are not fulfilled, very unspecific stimuli may lead to the response. There is often appetence behavior, that is, looking for stimuli or triggers for a specific or any instinct. Stimuli that lead to instinct fulfillment, and perceptions that are associated with them are perceived as positive, beautiful, etc. Instincts are strengthened by use, exposure to stimuli, imagined and vicarious use, and by enjoying memories; non-use, avoiding triggers and memories, etc. eventually weakens an instinct until it is irrelevant, but it may be revived.
– Humans/primates have some predispositions to fear, examples: rat-, snake- and spider-like animals, fire, height, deep water, and fear of abandonment; most “modern” dangers do not impress people.
– Humans are opportunistic. Throughout the evolution of humans and their cultures, individuals have followed social instincts within groups but often deceived, assaulted, and exploited outsiders or ‘others.’ In groups more than as individuals, humans have usually been very violent, raiding neighbors (stealing women, animals and transportable goods) and killing as revenge in cowardly ways (i.e. when attackers had advantage in numbers and/or while enemies slept); if humans appeared courageous, it was mostly to defend immediate family or group, to impress others, and sometimes in impulsive revenge. People who may help in one’s pursuits are intuitively perceived as friends and as ‘good’; people who compete tend to be seen as ‘bad.’
– The rational mind cannot directly guide actions though it thinks ahead, often helps in emotional pursuits, and sometimes tries to stop behaviors if seemingly moving towards disaster – the rational mind then tries to find and mobilize more powerful countering emotions. Usually, external and internal stimuli move the body towards action; the body’s response is largely responsible for feelings, while thoughts supporting the actions are usually the last step.
– In the process of attempting to be ‘right’ and ‘important’, people devised cultures, cultural ways of doing things, specifying what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and for what reasons, explaining natural phenomena, etc.
Appetence may be perceived as boredom but also as freely reviewing environment. When in difficult situations the rational mind seeks to mobilize countering emotions we may feel anxious, stressed and perceive conflicts. it feels like expressing free will when the mind determines what emotion to pursue or what emotion is most powerful.
In the development of cultures there were frequent efforts to strengthen human’s ethical propensities and to introduce forms of morality that were part of religions; moral teachings usually included rewards and threat of punishment in an afterlife. However, most ethical teachings of spiritual leaders were quickly perverted with the inclusion of unethical traditions and whatever unethical goals leaders pursued. In addition, adolescent males want to compete with and reject “fatherly” gods and religious leaders. They may also become victims of addictive propensities, such as greed. Families and different forms of groups usually develop their own subculture. While contemplating life, individuals should create their own culture and find ethics and meaning in life.

3.2.2 Instincts and learning within a culture
Most instinctive movements are raw, more like predispositions than smooth, efficient actions; children’s playing refines them through trial and error, improving coordination and adaptions according to culture and environments. Playing includes experimenting with objects that can be gathered, nurtured, thrown, or stamped on. Children also learn to combine inherent motoric patterns with orientation movements, e.g. turning body towards goal when walking, jumping or throwing an object. In higher animals, natural chains of instinctive actions can be broken down, with parts of it enjoyed outside natural sequences, and learning often involves combining primitive movement patterns into a technically important skill, such as using instruments and/or an artistically inspired gestalt, for instance in ballet.
Many factors may strengthen or weaken instincts. Hormones influence the power of instincts, e.g. bonding is reinforced in females mainly by oxytocin, in males by vasopressin; androgens promote readiness for sex and in higher levels also aggression. However, mental functions are usually more important than hormonal and physiological influences.
Cultures strongly influence how, while people grow up, some instincts are strengthened by use and mental images of instinct fulfillment, while others are weakened by nonuse, avoiding and distracting from triggers, thoughts and memories, never enjoying instinct fulfillment in actuality or vicariously. Emotions may lead people to act, but mental activities often stop moves towards impulsive acts: empathy for others, memories and anticipated consequences of an intended action may counter powerful emotions by generating even stronger emotions. People can learn to regularly counteract triggers towards unethical instinctive inclinations; however, “insight” is not adequate, the insight must be supported by emotions, such as compassion.
Learning is directly or indirectly motivated by instincts. People and animals remember perceptions and knowledge associated (preceding and concomitant) with the good feelings of appetitive behaviors and instinct fulfillment; associated and directly rewarding actions mutually reinforce each other. Instinct fulfillment may be direct in natural behaviors, e.g. nurturing children and seeing natural beauty, or it may be achieved through cultural or culturally modified behaviors and triggers that were closely associate with natural triggers, for example enjoying traditional ways of eating and courting and being attracted to male or female hair styles and clothing; transferring aggression into games and sports. Frustration of instincts may be sublimated in artistic forms of expression.
Most learning is positively motivated. Negative factors rarely lead to lasting behavior changes and people readily accept pain in their pursuit of goals. However, humans and higher animals have predispositions to learn some fears, such as fear of deep water and snakes. These fears are readily learned from other individuals but they can also be overcome. Nausea instinctively leads to a temporary aversion towards food that was last consumed.
Cultures shape social and other instincts to fit their moral systems. Humans appear to have evolved a ‘moral center,’ probably an extension of the language center, which incorporates culture-specific moral traditions.
Culturally and by environment shaped instinctive responses, such as defending honor with aggression and wanting to take laws into own hands become firmly ingrained. They may be transferred through generations as family values and family culture, even if not fostered by the cultural environment and no longer acted out in long-lasting feuds between families. Young people may still overreact to perceived insults and even respond angrily towards uninvolved persons. Such traditional attitudes within families or clans can at any time lead to new violence.
People are fascinated with pain and suffering, accidents and human cruelties. The fascination and perverse enjoyments (or at least gratification) appear instinctive but possibly also related to our conflicts concerning pain – its unavoidability and at times meaning versus the inherent coupling of pain sensations with a futile will to stop it. Cultures often invented extreme forms of mandated cruelties that are passed down through the millennia, often perpetrated in festive mood, apparently celebrating the fulfillment of an obligation (a most horrific example are the in some areas still with crude tools performed ‘pharaonic circumcisions’ or female genital cutting type III); such a pitilessly executed ‘tradition’ with grave life-long consequences is hard to explain, other than by understanding how humans are culture-bound and also fascinated by the cruelties.
Cultures also condone or encourage the re-enactment of wars and the very problematic enjoyment of unethical sexual and violent, often perverse thoughts, which appear addictive. Other forms of often condoned psychological addictions, include inappropriate, out-of-context instinct-based enjoyments such as overeating unhealthy foods, gaming, gambling, etc. Substance abuse-addictions, which may be part of a culture or detected and practiced by vulnerable people, are powerful because the substance reaches brain receptors that make the person feel as if there was instinct fulfillment.

3.2.3 Development of humans; instincts and empathy
Humans are closely related to other mammals and share more than 98.5% of their genes with chimpanzees. In spite of their biological closeness, the human mind is much more complex and in significant ways different from higher animals. Humans developed symbolic language with abstract concepts; data manipulations led to complex insights and foresight. The recent accumulation of scientific, technological and cultural data added much to the genetic inheritability of information.
Human emotions and many behaviors are remarkably similar to those of other primates and other animals2. Genetically, humans probably changed little for 35,000, maybe over 100,000 years: by nature, we are very similar to our gatherer-hunter ancestors, adapted to living in small groups. In spite of the similarities of many instincts, social organization varies greatly between even closely related primates, and adaptations to environmental and other changes may have been more rapid than developments by way of genetic mutations. Early humans may have developed forms of social organization that are different from any other animal.
Higher instincts are perceived as emotions with an urge to physically express themselves; following them generally feels pleasurable or satisfying. Primitive instincts, such as picking scabs, feel automatic, habitual, or compulsive.. Following instincts was broadly believed to be automatic and/or involuntary; actually people (and other animals) feel like they realize their will. Appetence or appetitive behavior, consciously or unconsciously looking for opportunities to exercise instincts, is associated with a sense of being free.
Instincts are the basis of cultural expressions. Instincts are probably fundamental to all feelings, motivation, games, sports, sense of beauty, and artistic expression.
In the process of manipulating data, humans may speculate about the future and imagine how other beings are affected by events and actions. The ability to put oneself in the position of others makes humans uniquely able to be empathetic: humans learn about others feelings, fears and aspirations by talking, story telling and reading, humans can imagine how others think, what they love and hate, what their plans and goals are, etc., and humans can empathize with others’ memories and how they are likely to feel about their past. Empathy may make people feel sympathy towards ‘others,’ including enemies and other animal species. Compassion combines empathy with people’s natural propensity to be helpful.
While instinct-related behaviors appear to move humankind forward, two instincts appear to have held progress back in a catastrophic way: 1. Like many higher mammals, humans have a powerful instinct to follow what they learned from parents and other older individuals: we pursue traditions and we generally fear novelty, unless something new is very attractive if not imminently addictive. Young individuals, particularly males, may temporarily rebel but they almost always return to behaviors of parental figures and older peers. 2. Humans are similar to the animals that we domesticated for exploitation: instinctively docile and readily following directions, if disobedience is punished. Most animals will not follow directions even if severely beaten, and they will not reproduce when abused and living in unnatural environments; humans and our domesticated animals keep producing, and reproducing even when enslaved.
As a consequence, in spite of their complex, large brains, humans have developed extremely slowly. The main reasons may be humans’ instinctive propensity to imitate older individuals, follow culture, and fear novelty; even if some people go through a rebellious phase, humans are generally compliant rather than inventive and eager to experiment.
Empathy appears to be uniquely human. Yet, empathy is a relatively new term; it means to put oneself into the position of another person, learning about the other person’s circumstances and background, making efforts to understand his/her feelings, emotions, belief systems, aspirations, etc. Only since the European Enlightenment has learning to be broadly empathetic become relevant in Western civilizations, and virtually all ‘higher’ civilizations suppressed natural empathy in similar ways, mainly reinforcing humans’ inherent us-versus-them thinking as part of traditions and religions. Only recently has it become unacceptable to treat spouses, children and particularly enemies, presumed criminals and people of ‘inferior races’ in most unfeeling, cruel ways. The term genocide did not even exist before the Holocaust, and people thought little of starving, slaughtering and burning villagers of ‘inferior races’ or different religions. The printing press and consequent widespread reading and writing have been most significant in the gradual major changes: travel reports, journalism, realistic short stories, documentary-like novels, published diaries and biographies, etc. described perspectives, emotions and agonies of people a reader’s parents might not have known or cared about. Curiosity and a preoccupation with proselytizing their religion and culture lead people to investigate other cultures, and the spread of scientific thinking curtailed fears of spirits (trolls, ghosts, spirits in the mountains and dense forests, etc.) that previously limited people’s traveling.
There are multiple facets to empathy and its use: sadistic empathy leads people to do what they believe the adversary would want least; in trade and business ventures, a producer, trader or sales person may empathetically evaluate what a potential buyer looks for and what assertions would make him/her most inclined to buy. With compassion, meaning some sympathy for a suffering person and a desire to help, empathy is likely to make helping more effective.
It is a human potential to be compassionate and empathetic towards friends and adversaries, distant people, animals and even people that will live in the future. Developing this propensity leads to a higher level of ethical thinking. However small group (us-against-them) thinking and cultural factors usually interfere with compassion. Children naturally experiment with lying and with treating other children or animals harshly, but children also readily love an animal or a person of an enemy group, and they may make spontaneously efforts to be empathetic. Cultures usually counter such compassionate empathy and teach older children to treat bred or hunted animals crudely and kill them, to be greedy, and to ignore or exploit enemies and strangers as feasible.
It is not known why humans started to walk upright and at the same time develop much larger brains than their primate cousins. For millions of years they did not use their free hands, and they appeared to have had few complex thoughts. Inventions to improve people’s ways of living were extremely rare; essentially the same stone implements were used through thousands of generations. The technological developments in the high cultures of recent millennias up to the Middle Ages were still extremely slow considering the theoretical knowledge educated people had. The most relevant factors were that humans are naturally culture-bound, thinking of the past as better than the present, and afraid of novelty; in addition due to their compliant nature, the big majority of people cold easily be exploited by their leaders, thus there was little incentive for technological progress. Obviously, even today, most people hardly use their potential mental abilities and talents; they live according to local and family tradition without challenging the tenets of quite dysfunctional systems. People often essentially stop learning in early adolescence. Skills needed for most jobs can be learned quickly, people are mostly compliant, seeking simple entertainments and may never learn a foreign language or artistic skills. Technological developments have greatly accelerated, but there is no plan and no oversight: investments are driven by greed, and most of what is new is primarily enticing and attractive rather than designed to enhance ethical living, happiness, and meaning in life.

3.2.4 Learning; formation of groups, rank orders and perception of people’s inequality
Human learning takes place within inherent paths: there are predispositions for specific forms of learning during specific developmental phases. For instance, infants develop inborn social behavior patterns and a high level of social competency3. Children and adults of all ages are curious and like exploring, at least within a safe range.
Much learning in childhood consists of play, which refines instinctively predisposed behaviors, e.g. learning to walk, run, and climb. Particularly young individuals spontaneously copy others’ positions and movements. In this way, they learn group specific behavior patterns and reinforce bonds; motoric behaviors and positions influence (and are influenced by) feelings and emotions. Unconsciously imitating facial expressions and body language leads individuals to feel mood states of others – parental figures, peers, etc., and it invokes sympathy between people4. However, body language is to large degree instinctive rather learned by copying – blind children can express their mood by smiling even though they never could observe and copy others’ motoric pattern.
The infant’s language center develops a readiness to pick up or invent words and characteristic grammatical structures. Human language appears to have developed as further ritualization of social patterns of primates5, and only secondarily to transmit other information. Storytelling, found in virtually all cultures, combines the two functions. Small tribes in all parts of the world developed their own languages and cultures; even twins who interact more with each other than with adults my develop their own primitive language. After a language may have spread over a large area by a conquering tribe, local dialects developed which became new languages.
Humans appear also to have evolved a moral center, probably an extension of the language center. This center is ready to store the culture’s judgments of “right” and “wrong” and helps identify and carry out what is taught to be honorable.
Predispositions to learning contain considerable genetic knowledge and a model of the human environment. Since infancy, primates have ambivalence towards fellow members of their species: there is attraction and fear or mistrust. Fear and mistrust are overcome by familiarity with other individuals. Humans appear to naturally acknowledge individual property, but children and adults readily give. Social interactions strengthen bonds within groups.
Naturally, people do not see individuals as equal. People develop rank orders. In small groups, successful, intelligent and as wise perceived persons usually become leaders; they receive “regard” and “respect”. However, high rank comes with an expectation to lead and defend the clan, to arbitrate or mediate among rank-lower individuals, and to help the weak6. Within their gender group, people may compete and fight for higher rank. Association with the leader also raises an individual’s rank. When the rank order is settled, individuals are usually content with the ensuing peace, no matter what position they are in.
People feel more attracted to “normal,” physically and genetically healthy individuals, and they often observe and look up to strong individuals. Among strangers, people are naturally more comfortable with individuals of the same culture, language and ethnicity, and they easily perceive others as enemies or not fully human. However, there is curiosity and novelty seeking, and, within culturally allowed limits, people are attracted to very different, healthy individuals (e.g. immigrants or adoptees). People naturally recognize beauty in young healthy human beings of all ethnicities, and also in healthy animals, in healthy plants, and in hospitable countrysides; and people are attracted to this beauty.
Hierarchies develop in all types of groups, including kindergarten classes. Leaders in a group are easily recognized because they are most looked at – “respect”, “respected”, German “Ansehen”, mean being looked at, with intention to follow his/her lead and also being recognized by the powerful person. Individuals sometimes want to compete with rank-higher individuals, but when losing they prefer to befriend them since friends of the high-ranking are an advantage over group members who lack such friendly connections. Within groups, the weak and/or seemingly abnormal are readily ignored if not driven out, if not killed. However, people can also become familiar with and attached to old, sick, abnormal and disfigured individuals. Illness, weakness, disability, and particularly submissive posture generally suppress aggressive instincts and may elicit nurturing instincts.
Studying people in Papua New Guinea, Jared Diamond describes how languages encompassed small numbers of interacting groups, which form their own culture. However, most people are multilingual, able to communicate with members of neighboring cultures.

3.2.5 Social instincts; differences between the sexes in patriarchal cultures
Social instincts in primates are adapted to small groups. The optimal seize of primate groups may be related to the brain’s capacity to feel familiar with all group members. In humans, maximum group size appears to be approximately 150 individuals. However, in modern times observed gathering-hunting bands consist usually of less than 50 individuals. Bonds within families and social groups are important for individuals’ sense of identity and meaning in life. Social behaviors, which include giving, begging and receiving, loving or dutiful or voluntary submission, leading and defending group members, etc. reinforce bonds within groups. They may also be strengthened by humor and social games. Appreciation of natural beauty and arts add to the perception of pleasure and meaning in life.
Humans appear to have strong inclinations towards nuclear, monogamous families, although males may form more than one nuclear family and both genders sometimes enjoy external affairs (which makes sense biologically: for the female, there is more genetic variability among her offspring, and males may have children that are supported by another family). Many factors, including the birth process and breast-feeding, contribute to the strong mother-child bond. Other natural factors, particularly the proportions of the baby’s head, also promote nurturing instincts and attachment. Strong parental bonds can develop between any older individual and children. Attraction between human males and females is more or less continuous, not related to times of estrus and fertility in the female. Sexual intercourse bonds partners, and marriages are biologically supported by humans’ readiness to have sex at any time, unrelated to the woman’s ability to conceive. Hormones that are released during sexual intercourse and other forms of intimacy lead to a powerful sense of being attached to the partner.
Boys and girls develop quite differently7. However, propensities dominating the development of one gender may be realized in the other when need arises. For instance, boys may be very nurturing when no other person attends a small child; otherwise they may not be aware of their nurturing abilities and easily tire from “girls’ games” that deal with family relationships, nurturing and caretaking, teaching, etc. Women may become more territorial, assertive and aggressive, taking on an alpha male role, when there is an apparent need. Girls appear to hear better and in different ways, and they recognize social sounds and faces at a younger age than boys. Boys are more attracted to games and technologies that deal with acquiring and controlling territory and fighting. For girls, territorial instincts focus more on shelter and hearth and a place where children can be raised. Boys tend to take major risks to test their skills, to establish a reputation or rank among peers and to impress girls; they often risk their lives. Girls take mostly risks by going along with boys.
Throughout history, most cultures have been patriarchal, reinforcing natural advantages of men and vulnerabilities of women. People generally looked at women’s hard work and suffering as justified by tradition and religion, and women usually accepted being, in status, somewhere between children and adult men; men usually claimed a right to physically punish their girl friends and wives. Girls and women have often been subjected to painful procedures or harmful and uncomfortable forms of clothing to ‘make their bodies more pleasing to men’; such practices may have been considered a condition for marriage or a moral duty, or they were traditions that were not questioned.

   Unlike powerful predators which live in social groups, such as wolves, humans have no strong inhibitions to injure and kill each other, if there are conflicts and there is no bond as family or clan members. Gathering-hunting tribes generally have had very high homicide rates due to conflicts between groups, even when neighboring groups had family connections – young females usually leave their group to find male partners. While severe violence has been common, seeing a dying or dead individual of its kind is disturbing to humans as it is to other social animals. [Interestingly, chimpanzees are not efficient in killing members of their species; in territorial wars between groups, they commonly bite and beat individuals brutally with several individuals ganging up on lonely individuals and very small groups; the attacked usually die slowly from their injuries (descriptions by Jane Goodall).]
In virtually all cultures, the gradual strengthening of governance with more and more sophisticated legal systems greatly lowered homicide rates. Many factors appear to have contributed to these developments (compare: Steven Pinker: The Better Angels in Our Nature)
With puberty, girls become to some extent victims to natural developments: they cannot control their menstrual cycles and when inviting intimacy, the male will largely control what happens. Later, they may become pregnant when it is not desired or fail to conceive when they want a child. Reproductive functions include significant dangers and pain. Still most girls are happy and proud to be female.
Sex drives of girls and boys do not complementing each other well. Good loving relationships generally require generosity, empathy and honest negotiating. However, in many cultures girls are forced to essentially accept a victim’s role that is considered part of religious piety. For a young woman it is most important that her partner loves her and is committed to her and her children, and that she is able to feel loving towards him. In some cultures, young men may abduct and rape their girl friend to avoid families trying to prevent their marriage and/or to save the marriage celebration costs. Even in stable relationships when a girl wants to please her boyfriend and in traditional marriages that are not arranged, first intercourse is often violent when the girl is not psychologically ready and penetration is painful, but the partner may be ridiculed if reluctant, and young women readily forgive him. Without contraception there is the additional violence of a likely pregnancy when she is too young and very scared of giving birth. However, exploitative rape without love or commitment is much more traumatic.
Biologically, to maximize the number of children, it makes sense that in adolescence, boys tend to be aggressive in their pursuit of sex when girls are naturally reluctant and their bodies may not be fully mature. Women’s sexual instincts become stronger in their late twenties, when, due to experiences, they may prefer to have no additional children and, in the absence of good contraception, they may want to avoid sex completely. Marital rape has been frequent, but in patriarchal cultures it was not acknowledged as a problem – the term marital rape is modern. Ethical cultures address these inherent conflicting propensities. Modern contraception allows frequent intimacy that supports bonds without consequent large families.
Male-female relationships are unusual in humans and highly influenced by cultural traditions. Since in most animals the female chooses the male she invites to mate with, the males evolved to be impressive and beautiful. In humans, men can abduct and rape girls and naturally participate in choosing a partner; thus both boys and girls compete for attractiveness: boys mainly want to appear strong and maybe smart and girls beautiful – being beautiful and handsome is usually associated with genetic health. The more attractive a young adult is: healthy, strong, handsome/beautiful, smart, funny, belonging to a high-ranking family, etc., the more he/she can participate in choosing a similarly attractive partner of the other sex. For females who usually have to leave family and female friends, the chosen partner must then protect her from undesired males, but the male then also wants to prevent her seeing other males she may like.
Most cultures seem highly concerned about the vulnerability of girls who venture away from her family of origin; rape is frequent in virtually all societies, often perpetrated by unethical family members and ‘family friends’, and raping low-class or adventurous independent girls may be directly or indirectly condoned if not encouraged by some cultures with the victims and possibly her family being blamed; measures to “protect” girls or punish raped ones are often harsh.
Naturally, males and females expect their relationship to be exclusive: he does not want her to become pregnant with another male, she is jealous of others that may decrease his attention from her and their children; however, affairs are a natural inclination. To avoid great psychological pain, people in good relationships learn to consider it taboo to follow their inherent propensity towards polygamy and affairs. Cultures vary greatly in rituals, initiation into adulthood, other phase of life rituals and particularly variations of forming families: males primarily choosing females, vice versa, or elders choosing acceptable mates for young adults (usually considering status and relatedness), families being strictly monogamous or polygamy being tolerated or encouraged, people forming families without firm commitment to stay together, etc.
Instinctively and reinforced particularly by cultures, girls are more protected and taught to fear dangers, which adds to their natural fear of marrying: leaving her family, intimacy, childbirth and husbands who may abuse them with impunity. Still most women resolved to attempt having her own family and children, rather than finding a niche for single women, such as becoming a nun. Making brides look beautiful and marriage ceremonies lavish may serve to ameliorate a bride’s apprehension.
Except in modern cultures, humans have not been strictly monogamous. Less skilled, inept and foolishly risk-taking boys are dispensable – surviving men then may marry or at least impregnate multiple women, lovingly or by force. For a low-ranking girl, it is preferable to become the second wife of a good man than having no partner or becoming the wife of a bad provider with bad character. Since, until recently, many children were needed for carrying on the family’s genes, evolution led us to recognize girls as more valuable and needing more protection. Patriarchal cultures partly reversed this propensity by passing down family names and property to boys; in addition, a boy’s future wife is likely to become the main caretaker for elderly parents.

3.2.6 Cultures leading to perception of groups becoming more evolved subspecies
Humans have a powerful propensity to develop cultural groups that may adapt instinctive propensities to specific environments, but they also feel like their newly developed traditions set them apart from other groups; they feel as if they are becoming a new, more evolved species or subspecies. In the development of cultures, instinct fulfillment becomes more and more indirect, and whatever is associated with likely future instinct fulfillment is later perceived as positive, beautiful, desirable and enjoyable. Human cultures include ‘mating dances’ and culture-specific ways of males showing strength and skills that are comparable to animals’ developing instinctive complex ‘dances,’ ritualized fighting, etc.; uniforms and fancy clothing are comparable to male mammals evolving impressive symbols of strength, such manes and antlers and male birds presenting beautifully colored plumage that makes them very visible to females as well as predators and may impede efficient flying.
In humans, dances, clothing, body painting, tribe-specific scarifications, performing specific dangerous acts, etc., are not only designed to improve individuals’ attractiveness but to confirm their affiliation with a tribe; however, they have no genetic basis, other than humans’ propensity to form diverse, complex cultures and strictly follow cultural traditions. Interestingly, modern men hide their obvious signs of masculinity, usually shaving their facial hair and hiding their genitals in loose clothing.
Human cultures include complex ways of creating clothes and shelters with spaces for specific functions, intricate ways of processing food, more or less complex, practical or artistically inspired implements, and different art forms. Typically, people of one culture perceive other cultures’ ways of living as impractical and uncomfortable, and people sometimes perceive food of other cultures as disgusting.
Generally, cultures create social orders or casts of more or less hierarchically ordered specialists; the culture-specific skills are typically passed on through generations and casts are inherited. Natural male-female differences are often overstated in many ways, but sometimes hidden. People naturally do not treat strangers like family and friends, but cultures usually encourage that specific groups of strangers are treated differently, some well, others badly. However, with modern globalization, many cultural biases are weakened, leading to more empathy among strangers. At the same time, many cultures die, becoming part of evolving regional cultures. While many instincts and their cultural adaptations are no longer directly followed, instincts always are the basis of learning and cultural expressions.
A broadly beneficial change in virtually all cultures included leaders becoming enforcers of basic morality, directly or indirectly, and leaders gradually improving systems of laws and their enforcement; individuals were no longer allowed to personally avenge what they perceived as injustice or insult. Though still far from perfect, civilizations accomplished that rates of homicides and other violence continue to decrease.
Cultures powerfully influence what and how children learn, how they express their instinctive propensities, etc. Humans share many instinctive propensities with animal relatives, e.g. perceiving a threat to personal space or family territory triggers an aggressive response since aggression naturally serves to defend rank and territory. Cultures have often exploited instinctive propensities, e.g. the social instincts to help family and clan (loyalty) is exploited to promote the interests of leaders, kings and/or states. The inherent propensity to love and emulate parents and village elders is utilized to introduce teachers of religious morality. Many cultural practices helped improve nutrition and/or decrease diseases, however, religious-spiritual healing practices were often more damaging than helpful and many wasteful and cruel traditions became moral mandates. While sciences advance, cultural traditions remain often strong and there is often a hostile attitude towards from outside introduced new treatments and preventive measures.

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1  Much information on the subject can be found in the psychological and psychiatric literature. The literature on animal behavior research, including the works of Konrad Lorenz; Jane Goodall, Through a  WindowMy Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe, Houghton Mifflin, 1990, and other works; Dian Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist, Houghton Mifflin, 1983; Frans B. M. de Waal, Chimpanzee Politics, Power and Sex among Apes, Harper & Row, 1982, Good Natured, the Origins of Right and Wrong in Human and other Animals, Harvard University Press 1996, Tree of Origin, What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution, Harvard University Press, 2001; and in Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt Die Biologie des Menschlichen Verhaltens, 3. überarbeitete Ausgabe, 1995 [English translation: Human Ethology]
2  Emotions remain extremely important in human life, and acquired knowledge is not always helpful:  while a chimpanzee can never express why he is grief-stricken, humans usually communicate data and try to console with language. What is said, particularly giving advice, may undermine the emotional support. Modern technology often impedes social interactions and healthy lifestyle. With regards to many behaviors such as political maneuvering, politicians, human children, and chimpanzees are very similar (Frans B. M. deWaal, Chimpanzee Politics, Power and Sex among Apes, Harper & Row, 1982).
3  Infants instinctively focus on care givers’ eyes, recognizing where they look and then looking to the same place (“gaze monitoring”). Later children learn to interpret subtle cues as to what people think and feel, mostly observing the eyes (emotional expression recognition). These abilities permit complex social interactions and facilitate the development of empathy. (Steven Johnson, Mind Wide Open, Sribner, 2004, p.30ff)
4  There are strong influences in all directions between (1) mood-emotion, (2) motor position and behavior, and (3) cognitions:  when a person sees a very sad child and consequently his body posture and movements also express sadness he will perceive the environment as sad looking and have sad thoughts. If physically acting out a sad or happy scene, mood and perception of the environment follow the by posture expressed emotion; when thinking happy thoughts, body posture and gait expresses the happiness and the environment appears bright and happy.
5  Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt Die Biologie des Menschlichen Verhaltens, 3. überarbeitete Ausgabe, Piper 1995, p. 720ff, p. 747
6  Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Wider die Misstrauensgesellschaft, Piper 1995, 97, p. 74f: There is agonistic-repressive and caring-protective dominance. Even in ape species, in which rank is mostly reached by fighting, high ranking animals fulfill protective and social functions, and they help to avoid fights between lower ranking animals.
7  Differences were described in many places, e.g. the presentation “Group Processes in Same-Sex Children’s Groups” by Eleanor E. Maccoby, PhD, Stanford University, California, in Audio Digest Psychiatry, vol. 29, issue 20, 10/21/ 2000. In the development of the male and female brain, significant differences in proportions between structures develop, and different anatomical structures are involved in completing similar tasks, compare “Gender Differences in Emotional Processing” by John Medina, Psychiatric Times vol.12.11 (10/2005) p. 20ff.  Detailed descriptions of male-female differences are described in the books by Leonard Sax: Why Gender Matters 2005, Boys Adrift 2007, Girls on the Edge 2010. A critical phase for the male-female differentiation appears to be around the third month of embryologic development, when in males temporary production of androgens “masculinizes” cells of the central nervous system and reproductive organs; without hormonal influence, the child develops female. Regarding differences in male and female sexuality, see also 2.3.

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