Is it true that every behavior is acquired?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the idea that all behaviors beyond primal behaviors are learned or acquired, but there may be innate behaviors or predispositions that play a role in what humans and other animals are capable of learning. Factors such as biases, emotions, and physical limitations can also affect our ability to learn new behaviors. Additionally, there are innate behaviors that have been observed in primates and other animals, suggesting that not all behaviors are learned.
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ORF
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Hi,

I was told that "Every behavior beyond our most primal behaviors are learned/acquired behaviors". Is it true?

Thank you for your time


Cheers,
ORF
Hi,

I was told that "Every behavior beyond our most primal behaviors are learned/acquired behaviors". Is it true? If so, is there any room to choose what behavior to learn?

Thank you for your time

Cheers,
ORF
 
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  • #2
This would seem tautologically true. (Any acquired behavor is defined as not primal)
 
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  • #3
Yes, definitely a true Scotsman argument.
 
  • #4
Depends on what you consider primal behaviors, which seems undefined to me.

There is also the issue of behaviors of what? Are you only talking about humans or would this also include behaviors of other animals, like insects, dogs, snails, birds.
Many animals have pretty complex behavior that most people would not considered acquired.

Generally, I would say no, but I suspect I am missing some of the subtleties of your question.
 
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  • #5
The dam-building behavior of beavers seems neither 'primal' nor 'acquired'.
 
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  • #6
Amazingly, if you develop OCD behaviours (rituals), you have the ability to unlearn those behaviours. OH THE GREATNESS OF IT ALL.
 
  • #7
Our individual physiology limits or allows us to learn certain behaviors- that is always changing as we age.

This is especially evident in developing children or in older age, where there are limiting factors in place. Disability, disease, or less than optimal cognitive functioning can also be a limiting factor in learning behaviors.

The biggest obstacle in learning new behaviors are behaviors/information/processes that are already in place in the brain- they have physical neural locations that may compete or impede with the desired new one. Think about a person heavily biased against people that are not their race, in order for them to learn to think and behave differently, they have to reckon with hundreds of memories of themselves behaving alongside that bias as well as the multitude of complex factors in the brain that culminate in that biased behavior. Like playing Jenga. If we knew the locations that store information that drives a specific behavior and went into “erase” it (to make way for a new one), then we would likely also obstruct processes for other seemingly unconnected behaviors.

When we introduce factors that affect the brain, like drugs, alcohol, chemicals, poor nutrition, poor sleep, etc. then we can see that this also affects a person’s ability to learn new behaviors.

Learning new behaviors often requires us to unlearn and rewrite physical locations. That’s why it takes so long to develop a habit or achieve desired personal growth. And also the reason why bias is so difficult to get rid of.

We cannot always choose what behaviors to learn. Only in theory, when there aren’t limiting factors.
 
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  • #8
While humans have a huge capacity to learn there are often what might be considered innate biases. Humans develop a wide variety of social behaviours but this learning is highly motivated, humans are very social animals. It also appears that we may be predisposed to certain types of learning, e.g. fear of snakes, even common in countries that don't have dangerous snakes, we are capable of learning a wide range of things but find some types of learning, that don't really make sense quite difficult to learn. Emotional associations or the value we give to certain behaviours plays a major role.
 
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  • #9
Anecdotal comments on innate behavior. Innate in this sense is some facility or behavior that is not learned.
Here is one example:
I had a completely windowless lecture room... turned off the lights and played ~30 seconds of a recording of a pride of lions fighting with hyenas over a carcass. The students all reacted with fear. This is why only a fraction of the recorded length was played. Years later students, all from an incredibly rural area in Arizona, commented to me about it. They understood "innate" really well.

Pareidolia example - seeing faces or objects where there are none, from social media:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/christopherhudspeth/pareidolia-quiz

Almost everyone has seen a face or an animal in a cloud.

The examples of behaviors above are very likely innate.

Here is a claim with research about primates abilities to detect snakes visually:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27783686/
So the answer to the OP's question is: No. There are innate behaviors.

"Hardwired" is a term you will encounter.

More references are available at the NIH archive:
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=NIH:+primates+ability+to+see+snakes
 
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Related to Is it true that every behavior is acquired?

1. Is behavior solely acquired or is it also influenced by genetics?

Behavior is influenced by both acquired experiences and genetic factors. While some behaviors are learned through experiences and environmental factors, others are influenced by genetic predispositions or traits. Both nature and nurture play a role in shaping behavior.

2. Can behaviors be unlearned or changed?

Yes, behaviors can be unlearned or changed through various methods such as therapy, conditioning, and conscious effort. While some behaviors may be deeply ingrained, they can still be modified through consistent and intentional efforts.

3. Are all behaviors learned during childhood?

No, not all behaviors are learned during childhood. While early experiences and upbringing can have a significant impact on behavior, individuals continue to learn and adapt throughout their lives. Behaviors can be acquired at any age through various experiences and interactions.

4. Are there any behaviors that are innate or instinctual?

Yes, there are certain behaviors that are innate or instinctual, meaning they are present from birth and do not need to be learned. These behaviors are often necessary for survival, such as the instinct to suckle for nourishment or the instinct to seek shelter in dangerous situations.

5. Can behaviors be influenced by cultural or societal norms?

Yes, behaviors can be influenced by cultural and societal norms. Different cultures and societies have their own set of expectations and norms for behavior, and individuals may conform to these norms to fit in or be accepted by their community.

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