How much does animal behavior explain human behavior?

How much does animal behavior explain human behavior?

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This is a discussion on How much does animal behavior explain human behavior? within the General Psychology forums, part of the Topics of Interest category; I have seen a lot of people on the forum try to use the behavior of animals, in order to ...

  1. #1

    How much does animal behavior explain human behavior?

    I have seen a lot of people on the forum try to use the behavior of animals, in order to explain human behavior.

    What behavior can be explained this way, for certain? Justify.
    cardinalfire, timeless and Hiki thanked this post.

  2. #2

    Cuz we fux each uther. ?

  3. #3

    I see some similarities between animals and humans, but there are very clear indicators that we are not exactly like them.
    We have surpassed the primitivism.
    Promethea and Angelic Gardevoir thanked this post.

  4. #4

    Here is some reading material for anyone thinking of posting. Please make informed posts.

    Ethology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Behavioral modernity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Linesky, Promethea, NightSkyGirl and 2 others thanked this post.

  5. #5

    None whatsoever in my opinion.

    The foundation of humanity is reason: that is, human beings possess reasoning power. They are able to deduce conslusios from premises and use any form of evidence available them to come to concrete conclusions about said premises. Animals lack this: dogs do not think "if I go through this door I will be in another room" they can only connect this knowledge through memory and prior experience. Dogs don't eat because they know that if they don't eat there are negative results, they eat because they're hungry. They don't fuck because they are able to draw conclusions about the situation of fucking another dog, they just do it because they're on heat.

    Humans are different. Humans will think "I need to eat more vegetables to be healthy" or "I won't fuck the neighbour's wife because that has X problems that will arise out of it." The truth of these conclusions are in no way relevant to the discussion. What is important is that they are able to make decisieons and procss thoughts based on their ability to reason which is lacking in all other animals.

    That's why comparing human behaviour to animals is so offensive. "You're acting like a pig," is offensive because it implies that we have lost the only thing that makes us human, i.e. our ability to reason. That we don't think, we just act. I will mention this pre-emptively: It's simply not true to state that some humans are like that. All humans have reason. Even the person who acts like a pig is deducing or inducing that course of behaviour from any number of premises.

    You might say "Well I eat because I'm hungry." Yes, you do. That doesn't make your behaviour similar to that of an animals simply because you're doing the same thing for the same motivation. You eat because you're hungry because you do not want to be hungry because it's a bad feeling not because you have been programmed to eat when hungry as a natural instinct. Some people do NOT eat when they'er hungry, i.e. people on diets, because their reason has allowed them to deduce that the pain of hunger is better than the alternative. While this isn't true for most people it doesn't make the thought process used when deciding whether to eat or not animal, it's still necessarily human.
    Linesky, Promethea, timeless and 2 others thanked this post.

  6. #6

    This quote by Arthur Schopenhauer (or at least what I take from the quote) sums up my feelings on the key difference between humans and animals.

    "This arises first and foremost because with man everything is powerfully intensified by thinking about absent and future things, and this is in fact the origin of care, fear and hope. Which, once they have been aroused, make a far stronger impression on men than do actual present pleasures or sufferings, to which the animal is limited."

    Because humans are possessed of an egos, empathy, and other mental constructs that animals are not they do more than just react to stimuli with basic learned behaviors. There is a why to their behavior, not just a what. The exact mental processes and motivations a person might utilize in order to follow through with a specific act or thought varies greatly, but regardless of the person there are always some present. Humans have the ability to care, reason, think, etc and all of these, either consciously or unconsciously play a part in decision making.

    Linesky, Promethea and Rubyet thanked this post.

  7. #7

    DPH and Proteus covered it pretty well, but I think that this is such a popular hypothesis because it divorces people's actions from responsibility. If the hypothesis is that certain behaviors are hard-wired into animal brains, then it's not too far of a stretch to say that when humans act in this manner, they're no more culpable than an animal doing the same. When a snake bites someone, we don't blame the snake because that's what snakes do. If a person can establish that there exists a class of actions that are wholly natural for a living creature to participate in, then they remove themselves from criticism - at least, in their own heads. This could be used to justify all kinds of things, from promiscuity to violence to murder and magnets.

    I think the reality is that, while humans may do the same thing as animals at certain times, they have a markedly different purpose and we can't assume a connection where there is none. For example, if two separate people do the same action, we cannot conclude that they have the same intention. It's an even larger stretch to extend that assumption to animals, because we can't interview them.
    Promethea, Proteus, Diphenhydramine and 1 others thanked this post.

  8. #8

    ... We are animals, more specifically we're primates. That's not to say we can't differ from other animals, after all dolphins differ from bears and goats differ from houseflies but we are of the Kingdom Animalia nonetheless. The majority of sentient animals have the capacity to learn, it's essential for survival. A dog won't avoid the boundaries of an electric fence out of instinct, but out of applying experience. Or, if it's my neighbor's dog, it will force the owner to build an actual fence because she kept destroying the shock collars.

    Perhaps humans feel disconnected from other animals as most do not possess language (the only two I can think of that do off the top of my head are prairie dogs and dolphins). True, humans generally possess intellectual advantages over other species, but that does not mean that all human behavior is entirely different and unique from all other animals. Not even the platypus is that special.

    Humans/animals generally (they're are always the odd exceptions) eat, breathe, excrete waste, fornicate, form intimate bonds, rest/sleep, and are territorial ("possession is nine tenths of the law"). Both chimpanzees and humans have been known to participate in gang warfare, and power struggles are not uncommon in the least in the animal kingdom. One of the reason humans and other animals are similar behavior-wise is that they possess a survival and procreation (survival of the species) instinct. There are rules and hierarchies and taboos and jobs and all the other nonsense that goes along with the living scene.
    Last edited by Lapsistiai; 05-17-2010 at 06:28 AM.

  9. #9

    Human and animal behaviour are sometimes similar just because both species evolved, carrying the same trait through generations for the same reason. So you can use animal behaviour to stimulate ideas about why humans evolved the same way.

    But sometimes genetics are irrelevant because of the technology and knowledge in the world that makes us behave in 'unnatural' ways. Maybe the more technologically advanced we become, the less evolution/animal behaviour can be applied to our own behaviour.

  10. #10

    I still think our biggest mistake is we wrongly assume we are a superior breed of beast. Just because we do things differently from the rest of the animal kingdom does not mean we do it better. Regardless of abstract thought we are still quite primitive.
    Just_Some_Guy and reyesaaronringo thanked this post.

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