This question has been debated so many times that you may not want to read another opinion. That’s OK, I can take it. It is just that I want to look at this question from a very basic and simple angle.
It is generally agreed by most that us human being are just another species of animal, but with higher intelligence. When most professionals talk about what motivates people to do what they do, they are inclined to concentrate on their subjects thought patterns, and not so much on what nature has to say in all this. The vexed question of the nature/nurture balance and how it affects the end result is often overlooked.
I have said on many occasions that “nature rules”, and I have not yet found a good argument refuting that position. The question of breeding must come into the equation, although most human being are very reluctant to even think about it, what about talk about it. Firstly, I would like you to understand that I do not wish to encourage humans to deliberately practice same, but to refute the effect that breeding has on all of us would be foolish. We are all the result of many thousands of years of breeding, although, because of our lengthy breeding cycle, things don’t change as quick as most other animals.
To continue this matter further I have made the assumption that we are all a result of our DNA before birth, and our environment after birth, on a roughly 50%/50% basis. None of us can do anything about who we are before we are born, because it is dictated by who our biological parents are and their history. It should be remembered that assuming the breeding cycle of a typical human being is every 20 years, that means over the last 1,000 years anyone reading this is 50% the result of approximately those 50 generations. When it comes to most animal breeding cycles, this is very low. A typical dog over the same time period would be the result of well over 700 generations.
You can see that selective breeding can affect most other animals in a major way due to the number of cycles involved with most other animals. I think that some large animals such as elephants are in a similar time cycle.
What has all this got to do with the titled question? Before anyone can accurately make a judgement on why anyone does what they do, and when they do it, one has to think about their biological history. We know that a person’s early environment will greatly affect their thinking and behavior because that makes up approximately 50% of who they are. On the other hand, one cannot ignore the other 50%, and that is their physiological history. Forgetting early environment for a moment, what differences do the underlying basic personalities of an individual have when they are born, make once they grow into an adult? One always has to remember that the effect of the environment of a growing child is only an overlay on what they already possess. To use an analogy – one can mould a piece of wet clay into many things, but at the end of the day, it is only going end up as good as the quality of the clay you used to make it.
Now for the bit about “nature rules”. For the sake of the argument, I am going to use the comparison between wild native wolves and us humans. Remember, we are both animals and the rules of nature apply to all other animals and us. If you think otherwise, I suggest you think things through a little deeper, regardless of how uncomfortable you may feel about that premiss.
Thinking of wolves, us humans are also a pack animal, in that we like to associate with our own kind. While a wolf pack is made up of maybe 5 to 15 members and rarely exceeds that, we have many larger grouping that we consider our own. It is our basic animal instincts that causes us to gravitate to those of our own kind. Outside of our immediately family, this could include our neighborhood, our town or city, our country, our sporting club and any other grouping we feel comfortable associating with. Now for the controversial part of the equation. Just like many other animals, we also feel more comfortable around our own, and we recognize that by what those other differences may be. These additional differences may also include language (country), culture (attitude/behavior), physique (big/small or male/female), and obviously, looks (hair and eye color/skin color), because the last one is the most obvious at any first meeting.
In the case of a wolf pack, there is usually an alpha male that rules the roost and every other member follows that lead. There is competition for that role from time to time and the wisest and strongest usually wins the argument. Most of us humans are no different. There are amongst us what appears to be born leaders and then the others, the followers, who are inclined to follow. Are leaders born with the basic skills or are leaders created?
While I am no expert on this subject, the above are the observations I have made after living in 6 different countries for the last 80 years or so. Us individual humans are all different and there are no two exactly the same, but we are all inclined to gravitate to where we naturally feel comfortable. This, I contend, stems from our animal roots and the 100,000’s of years of human evolution. Because of our lengthy breeding cycle, it takes many thousands of years to breed substantial evolutionary differences, and therefore I cannot see major changes over the next 1,000 years.
What am I saying in all this? When considering the question of why people do what they do, I think it would be wise to take into consideration the fact that we are all basically an animal and that those tendencies, to a greater or lesser extent, are a part of all of us. To ignore same is to ignore the truth, regardless of how any individual may feel about it. I believe that a person’s basic personality and abilities have more to do with their DNA than many are willing to accept. Think about it, it is, after all, the foundation of us all., before we are even born.
Any and all comments more than welcome. Thanks in anticipation.