Evolution of Behavior

Behavior is thought to have evolved through the principles of natural selection: the behaviors that help organisms survive are more likely to appear than those with no benefits. Behaviors that aided in the survival of distant human ancestors were likely passed down to offspring, eventually forming the set of behaviors that make up natural instinct. However, humans are able to consciously act in ways that contradict instinct, either enhancing or harming chances of survival.


Conjecture is an inference or conclusion drawn from incomplete evidence, often through use of presumption or guesswork. Conjecture is an important feature of language, as it allows people to make assumptions about situations without knowing all the facts. This is particularly important in scientific fields, since the hypotheses of most scientific studies involve some degree of conjecture. For example, in the field of linguistics, conjecture is often used by researchers who attempt to study ancient languages.

Semantic Memory

Semantic memory is a component of long-term memory, containing facts and general knowledge that do not pertain to specific events one has experienced. For example, when presented with the statement “A canary can fly,” one can usually determine it is true without recalling the specific time he/she learned this fact. This is because people can remember generalizations such as “Most birds can fly,” then make inferences that lead them to believe canaries can fly.

Affection Exchange

Expressing and receiving affection has been called a "fundamental human need." Recent research has generated scientific data that verbal and "supportive" affection have not only mental but physiologically beneficial reactions. The data showed that when people who were undergoing stress were offered verbal and "supportive" affection by an emotionally significant relation, cortisol reactivity was lower compared to not receiving any such affection.


Developmental psychologist Martin Hoffman posited that "empathic distress, a vicarious feeling through empathy, is transformed into an altruistic motivation." As such, empathy to Hoffman is not a feeling in and of itself but a process that facilitates empathic distress and empathic altruism.

Moral Sentiments

Adam Smith, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, posited that there are common moral emotions and feelings that underlie human social behavior. Smith wondered if there existed an innate sense of morality in humans, independent of teaching or social norms. Scientists now believe that moral sentiments such as generosity, altruism, and empathy may indeed have physiological drivers.


Ethnocentrism is the judging of other cultures as abnormal and inferior when compared to one's own culture.


The principles of evolution place emphasis on survival of the fittest, which theoretically should prevent one from behaving in a manner that benefits others at one’s own expense. However, the evolutionary value of altruistic behavior can be traced back to primitive times, where helping others was advantageous for families and groups as a whole. According to evolutionary theory, altruistic behaviors should be less frequent in modern society, where group dynamics and relationships are no longer essential for survival.


Submissive behavior can result from innate personality traits or from special circumstances in one's environment. "Evolutionary theory conceptualizes submissive behavior as a fear-based self-protective strategy when in a subordinate position," to prevent conflict with dominant individuals. Therefore, submissiveness is typically characterized by deferral to more dominant individuals. However, submissive behavior may also arise in situations where an individual purposely defers to others despite being in a position of power.

Thought Processes and Inner Speech

Thought refers to an individual's subjective consciousness and imagination. The ability to consciously reflect on a problem or idea allows humans to interpret and manipulate the world in very unique ways. However, “thought and word are not connected with each other by a primary bond. A connection originates, changes, and grows with the development of thinking and speech”. The conversion of thought to speech is a detailed process, requiring the analysis of the sequence and development of thought before it is embodied in words.


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