I'm wondering whether even basic human behavior (beyond what appears to be directly wired into our nervous systems, like swallowing and face-related mirror neurons) are indeed facilitated by genetically determined features of the body (and by features of the environment), but only acquired through either operand conditioning (i.e. through exploration) or observational learning (i.e. through culture). Cats, for example, have an innate urge to catch things, but they only really learn to hunt from copying other cats. To some extent, the art of hunting can be thus seen as cat culture (it might just be very easily re-discoverable). In this interpretation, the genetic predispositions for a fit phenotype are partly outsourced from a genetic to a memetic encoding, and even basic behaviors require a fairly universal learning apparatus to be acquired. Given that a basic behavior such as hunting is not fully genetically encoded in cats, can we assume that no behavior roughly more complex than chasing things is directly genetically encoded in humans, and that more complex behaviors are at most genetically facilitated in the body to be acquired by exploration and observation? Could, for example, the mother instinct be broken down to heuristic rewards a mother receives from seeing a small human, from empathic rewards from caring, from a heuristic attachment of the baby to a food source and warmth, and the rest is a matter of operand conditioning, exploration and culture?

Are there any explanatory approaches along these lines in the literature?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This question may be too broad as-is. Perhaps research attempting to decouple the effects of nature from nurture is not a priority currently, and research into the role of learning specifically is out of favour (see a related question: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/8539/…). So comprehensive answers to such a broad question are unlikely - you'd have more luck investigating the roles of nature and nurture in individual behaviours. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ They are often encouraged and emphasized by parents, and they put limits on their children. We see that the self-control, awareness of responsibility, and its connection to reality develop in living environments where rules are clear and clear compared to non-environments. discoverarticles.com/2020/07/08/… $\endgroup$
    – historia
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 22:58


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