Do human beings have any proper natural instincts anymore, or is it all just learned responses and reflex?


Is there anything we can do without being taught first and learning by mistake? The only thing I can think of is sleeping. Is sleeping a real natural instinct?

In: Biology

Yes we have many. Most are pretty small things like the reflex that makes infants hold their breath if submerged. But arguably some of the complex stuff we do is pretty instinctive. Like we don’t instinctively know a language, but babies’brains are pre-wired to recieve one, and they listen for, repeat, and learn a language author anyone telling them to.

Babies breathe out underwater and even swim – it’s the whole basis of underwater baby shoots, they breathe out and open their eyes and generally don’t mind it.

All kinds of body reflexes – tapping your knee, stroking the bottom of your foot, etc.

Taste, and turning your head from food that tastes bad, that’s present as a baby – and the purported origin of the “No” head-shake.

Blinking, flinching when an object comes towards you.

Baby’s hands can grip onto an object and hold their own weight up automatically (believed to be from our ape ancestors clinging to mother).

Almost everything to do with swallowing, coughing, choking, gagging on stuck food.

Newborns will crawl to their mothers breasts if you just leave them alone… we just always pick them up nowadays, but they can smell the milk and make their own way there.

All kinds of things. You just don’t think of them in everyday life.

When we spend time with our hands wet, we get wrinkled fingertips. It’s for extra grip allegedly. That’s got to be really auto instinctive, surely?

Just like any other animal, our instincts to survive and procreate override almost everything else.

We also have instincts left to us by our ancestors. We startle at loud noises. We fear snakes (bugs, dogs, other possibly threatening creatures) falling, the dark, and fire. Even the most confident among us approach the unknown with some trepidation. Our more cautious predecessors survived to pass those traits down until they became instinctual.

In modern times most of us unlearn most of those instincts during childhood. But the instincts are so great that hardly anyone “outgrows” them all.

EDIT: In case you’re interested, sleep isn’t an instinct. It’s a body function. Just like pooping, we eventually learn the socially acceptable parameters of it, but your body just does it naturally.

I don’t think it’s been mentioned, but the ‘gut instinct’ we have when something does not feel right could fall into an instinct we still have.