Is it true that every behavior is acquired?

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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
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
hutchphd
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This would seem tautologically true. (Any acquired behavor is defined as not primal)
 
  • #3
glappkaeft
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Yes, definitely a true Scotsman argument.
 
  • #4
BillTre
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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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sysprog
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The dam-building behavior of beavers seems neither 'primal' nor 'acquired'.
 
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  • #6
StevieTNZ
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Amazingly, if you develop OCD behaviours (rituals), you have the ability to unlearn those behaviours. OH THE GREATNESS OF IT ALL.
 
  • #7
Fervent Freyja
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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
Laroxe
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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.
 
  • #9
jim mcnamara
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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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