Are We Hardwired? The Role of Genes in Human Behavior

By William R. Clark; Michael Grunstein | Go to book overview

2
In the Beginning
The Evolutionary Origins
of Behavior

When we think about behavior, naturally enough we think about how human beings react in response to the people, things, and events in their environment. Human behavior is enormously complex, involving intellectual, emotional, and social elements. Some components of human behavior, such as speech and abstract thought, are either unique to humans, or are unusually highly developed in our species.

Yet there are many elements of behavior shared by almost all living animals, including humans. Information about the environment— everything that lies outside the individual—is picked up through our five senses and processed in the brain and other elements of the nervous system, and then we respond, physically or psychologically, to those cues. We recognize similar behavioral responses in other animals—our pets, for example, or any of the wild animals that have been the subject of the seemingly endless nature programs on television. If we live closely enough with animals to become truly attuned to their

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