Universal human behaviors
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15-05-2012, 12:16 AM
Universal human behaviors
I'm sure this is one of those questions that's a google search away from being answered, but figured I'd bring it up here.

Why do human beings have behaviors that transcend language and culture? Examples being laughter, crying, smiling, and most emotion indicators. While things like giving the "thumbs up" sign can be the equivalent of a middle finger in the Middle East, we are born programmed to do certain things when feeling certain ways. Why does our body shed tears when our sadness threshold is breached? Why do we show our teeth and make strange "ha ha ha" sounds when we're sufficiently happy?


I feel a bit like the Terminator asking this, but we clearly aren't taught these things, as any crying baby will tell you. So why do we do them?

Or as Arnold would say:




"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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15-05-2012, 12:52 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
It's just a wikipedia search away... Smile

(This subject is so 'full-on' I have to post some 'wiki')

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_behavior

There is so much involved here... Blink

Humankind Dodgy (a total misnomer)
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15-05-2012, 01:22 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
(15-05-2012 12:16 AM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  I'm sure this is one of those questions that's a google search away from being answered, but figured I'd bring it up here.

Why do human beings have behaviors that transcend language and culture? Examples being laughter, crying, smiling, and most emotion indicators. While things like giving the "thumbs up" sign can be the equivalent of a middle finger in the Middle East, we are born programmed to do certain things when feeling certain ways. Why does our body shed tears when our sadness threshold is breached? Why do we show our teeth and make strange "ha ha ha" sounds when we're sufficiently happy?


I feel a bit like the Terminator asking this, but we clearly aren't taught these things, as any crying baby will tell you. So why do we do them?

Or as Arnold would say:



You have raised some very interesting issues. Some emotion certainly seems to transcend memes.

Will have to give this one quite a bit of thought..................
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15-05-2012, 05:12 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
Well, we are all pretty closely related - and even our cultures are closely related in the greater scheme of things. Our emotional makeup and some of the physical responses to emotion will be due at least in part to these relationships.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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15-05-2012, 08:28 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
instinct maybe? some animals laugh, even dogs when you tickle them they get spasms like they where laughing even if they can't make a sound. I think those responses are programmed in our brains and we've built cultural meanings around them, because we tend to do that.

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15-05-2012, 10:41 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
Maybe this table might help explain the origin of basic and complex emotions:
[Image: emotion-t2-lg.jpg] For more information:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/emotion/

Welcome to science. You're gonna like it here - Phil Plait

Have you ever tried taking a comfort blanket away from a small child? - DLJ
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15-05-2012, 11:14 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
It all has to do with engrained traits. The book Before the Dawn (2006) by Nicholas Wade explains that there are two types of modern human: anatomical and behavioral. The former, like the name implies, were fully developed humans (although quite a bit more heavily built) who appeared around 150,000-200,000 years ago. The latter are lightly built humans with all of the behaviors common today who appeared around 50,000 years ago. The author suggests that these modern behaviors were brought on by some evolution in the brain. Gene chronology shows that such changes took place 37,000 years ago and 6,000 years ago, respectively. Therefore, there is no reason that other changes could not have taken place before this time. And since all humans have these behaviors, this most likely means that the early human inhabitants of Africa had them before they left to colonize the world some 50,000 years ago.

On a related note, Wade also mentions the research of Anthropologist Donald Brown, who laid out the culture of the "Universal People," a metaphorical people that practice the traits that are common between every culture on earth. He writes:

Quote: [...] Among the Universal People, families are the basic unit of social groups, and groups are defined by the territory they claim. Men dominate political life, with women and children expected to be submissive. Some groups are ordered on the basis of kinship, sex and age.

The core of a family is a mother and her children. Marriage, in the sense of a man's publicly recognized right to sexual access to a woman deemed eligible for childbearing, is institutionalized. Society is organized along kinship lines, with one's own kin being distinguished from more distant relatives and generally favored over those who are not kin. Sexual regulations constrain or eliminate mating between genetically close kin.

Reciprocity is important in the daily life of the Universal People, in the form of direct exchange of goods or labor. There are sanctions, ranging from ostracism to execution, for offenses such as rape, violence and murder.

The Universal People have supernatural beliefs and practice magic, designed for such purposes as sustaining and winning the attention of the opposite sex. "They have theories of fortune and misfortune. They have ideas about how to explain disease and death. They see a connection between sickness and death. They try to heal the sick and have medicines for this purpose. The UP practice divination. And they try to control the weather," Brown writes.

The Universal People have a sense of dress and fashion. They adorn their bodies, however little clothing they may wear, and maintain distinctive hairstyles. They have standards of sexual attractiveness. They dance and sing.

They always have a shelter of some kind. They are quintessential tool-makers, creating cutters, pounders, string to tie things together or make nets, and weapons" (pp. 65-66)

I have Brown's book, but I haven't read it yet. I'll read it and other related books over the summer.
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15-05-2012, 10:34 PM
RE: Universal human behaviors
I'm dubious about references to significant gene changes only 6000 years ago that are closely related to intelligence and behaviour. Some people groups such as the Australian Aborigines departed from the rest of the human population well before that time (more like 40000 years ago).

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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16-05-2012, 10:45 PM
RE: Universal human behaviors
(15-05-2012 10:34 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  I'm dubious about references to significant gene changes only 6000 years ago that are closely related to intelligence and behaviour. Some people groups such as the Australian Aborigines departed from the rest of the human population well before that time (more like 40000 years ago).

The particular gene is known as ASPM. You can read about it here:

http://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2008/08/...uzzle.html
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17-05-2012, 03:59 AM
RE: Universal human behaviors
So my take home from that article is that all humans have the ASPM gene, and at least two forms are present in humans. Although it is linked to brain development noone has been able to devise a test that identifies differences that these two variants produce in resulting cognitive ability. Either there is some advantage that it is bestowing and that is driving selection towards it but that advantage is not yet understood, or we are simply looking at a case of genetic drift between different populations of a gene difference that does not have significant positive or negative selection pressure associated with it.

Am I reading it right?

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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