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Human nature

Human nature is the range of human behaviour that is believed to be innate rather than learned. There is much debate over which behaviours are innate and which are learned, and whether or not this division applies equally to all individuals. This debate is also known as 'nature versus nurture'.

Very few consider all of human behavior to be voluntary or all of it innate. Most believe some combination of the two is at play.

Arguments for innate behaviour

All individuals and all societies have a similar facial grammar. Everyone smiles the same, and how we use our eyes to convey cognition or flirtatiousness is the same.

No success has ever been scientifically demonstrated in re-assigning an individual's handedness. Although an individual may change their external behavior (picking up scissors with the right and instead of the left, for instance), their internal inclination never changes. Even people who lose a limb, who physically do not possess the ability to pick up scissors with their left hand, will try to do so if they are 'left handed.' The percentage of left-handers in all cultures at all times remains constant.

Extensive, multi-decade research on identical twins confirms that their behavior is similar even when they are raised separately.

Newborn babies, far too young to have been enculturated to do so, have measurable behaviors such as being more attracted to human faces than other shapes and having a preference for their mother's voice over any other voice.

All of these behaviors suggest that some individual behaviors have a genetic basis. None of these behaviors suggest that all behaviors have a genetic basis.

Arguments for learned behaviour

As elusive as nature itself, human nature nevertheless forms an essential theoretical underpinning for most sociological disciplines. Anthropology, however, can provide counter-examples for most suppositions about humankind: tribes who shun sociability, sub-cultures who eschew belief. Nevertheless the search to understand and dissect human nature continues.

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