Many behavioural traits are linked to emotions which control our responses to external events. Some are immutably entrenched, like “do not harm children”.
However these “directives” to behaviour were evolved in the context of a society which preceded much of the contextual change which we now take as granted and which influences our current behaviour forcefully.
Thus these hard-wired responses may not be appropriate now, and have the real danger of being counterproductive or dangerous to societal groups.
Assuming that learning will cause people to behave “like us”. This is an extension of the seemingly inherent obligation of humans to instruct their children into behavioural patterns appropriate to their cultural context. The assumption which these parents must live with is that their endeavour will be successful. The dangerous extension is that humans have come to believe that this can be universally extended to all humans, irrespective of defining genetics or powerful cultural contexts. This unjustified assumption has lead to naïve political opinion formation, highly dangerous and destructive to societal integrity.
Compassion and charity. Humans are inherently compassionate. This is an important societal survival mechanism to assist a return into full societal contribution of those victims of adverse events. It contains a selection mechanism, since compassionate expenditure (of endeavour) must be cost-effective to that society. Sadly compassion has been politically perverted and has become an industrialised (and often unselective) political ploy offering a section of the population “something for nothing”. This is no more than an illusionary deceptive luring unproductive greed.
Willingness to assist or to not assist. This is an extension of compassion. Again it is in the interests of society to offer short term assistance. In the present material world this may not be feasible. Thus the refusal to assist might result aggrieved aggression.
Assumptions of invulnerability. Many in materialistic societies have come to believe that they are invulnerable, and hold science and the government responsible for that. When it is revealed that they are vulnerable these humans are disruptively aggrieved. Thus the capacity of the human to fear and strategise to avoid adverse events has been, at least muted and in some cased destroyed. One outcome has been the evolution of destructive litigation.
Belief in the promises of “authority” because these are “important people”. Even film stars are given credibility and sycophantic adulation. Such beliefs extend back to the existence and need for strong leadership, so necessary for the protection of the group, by a hierarchical command.
What is different now is that in the past (with small social groups) the qualities of the leadership of small human groups evolved by spontaneous recognition of the qualities of particular members, often through a succession which was easily observable to each member of the community.
Derogatory terms. Human unity has as its matrix the need for approval. Approval is sought (by normal humans) constantly and unremittingly (Psychopathology is a useful guideline to the mechanisms of normality and an illustrator of the levels of failure. Some groups are devoid of the need to seek approval, which sequestrates them firmly away from social binding, such as psychopaths.). Complex patterns of behaviour, associated with the search for, and recognition of, approval exist. One extension is “politeness”. This can be regarded as “recognition that a behavioural pattern is in existence” (and an implied wish to comply with that pattern).
Thus derogatory terms have an important role in the expression of disapproval. Smothering these terms, in the long run is counterproductive since the individual or group immunized against derogatory terms is not aware that dis-approbation exists, or that dis-approbation is invalid and without merit. In this way the mechanisms of adherence to a behaviour which is acceptable to that particular society is nullified.
Profiling. This extends the concept of dys-approbation to group level. Where inhomogeneous groups exist the same behavioural expressions of disapproval and derogation might be applied. The fear of distinct groups is an integral part of human behaviour, and an extension of that is the inherent behavioural response of parents to instruct their children about this fear. A literary extension is the “cautionary (fairy) tale” which has played an important part in the behaviour of the child-parent complex in many societies.
Political interference in these “normal”, that is to say inherent biology, has become common, at times dangerously or comically so. President Obama called a press conference expressly to reprimand whit Americans for profiling black Americans. He did not have the insight to realise that, in his turn, he was profiling white-Americans. Perhaps the vote-catch justified this irrationality, along with the hope that it would not be noticed.
Competivity. Urban, materialistic humans often claim to be non-competitive. They are probably far more so than in other environments. The entire system of schooling is no more than training in competitively, teaching children to hold their ground against their superiors (if possible) and teaching these children to attempt to be better than their peers both physically and cognitively. Much of the behavioural systems.
In the now ubiquitous urban crowding lends itself to constant competition, from the queue system to motoring behaviour.
Behavioural changes related to materialism. It is widely held that “people are different now”, implying that there has been an alteration in the foundational behavioural patterns. As a rider to that it is held that humans “have learned by their mistakes’, are “better educated” (difficult to see that relationship) and are “not primitive any longer”, and much more.
There is no evidence whatever that is the case. There is, on the other hand much evidence that humans behave, locked in as they are to inherent and subliminal drives, as they have always behaved. Undoubtedly context, and notably materialistic context modifies behaviour, whilst that context is operative. But once other variables are added to context, or that context is modified, reversion to the foundation behaviour returns as the only available option
Age of marriage. It is held that “people should marry later”. This is a carry forward from competivity, where females delay childbearing in order to learn competitive skills.
Exemplifying exceptions. Often it is held, when referring to another social or cultural group, that an individual from that group has exceptional talent. Which talent is often irrelevant to the point being made. It is then held that because this sample individual has exceptional talent then the group as a whole will have talent. It is true that talent varies considerably within any given group, and there are exceptional people. However, as humans are group or social animals then it is the average talent which is critical. A football team with one or two star players will fail unless the standard of the rest of the team members is high.