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A blog by Leon Oudejans

95% of your behavior is primate behavior (Frans de Waal)

Big Think / The Well: 95% of your behavior is primate behavior with Frans de Waal
By: Frans de Waal (eg, Facebook, University, Wikipedia)
Date: 5 July 2022 (email)

” “I look at humans basically as primates,” says Dr. Frans de Waal in our Interview of the week. “95% of what we do are primate tendencies and primate emotions and primate sociality.” But, as de Waal points out, the problem is that we often interpret this in only one way: It’s assumed it means humans must be selfish, tribal, xenophobic, aggressive, and territorial — we’re a species born red in tooth and claw.

But this is only one side of our nature. Yes, chimpanzees will murder and abuse outsiders, but bonobos (with just as fair an familial claim on our genetics) “mingle, have sex, and groom” when they meet with strangers. There’s infanticide, but there’s also adoption. There are violent arguments, but there’s also make-up sex. The lessons found in our “animal” nature need not only be the dog-eat-dog ones.

Altruism, social consciousness, and gratitude are as evolutionarily useful as their opposites. Kindness has brought us to now just as much as betrayal. We have a lot in common with the natural world, and the natural world is not as straightforward as we think.”

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