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What Are Psychological Human Universals?

Psychological human universals is an anthropological and evolutionary psychology term referring to behavioral or cognitive traits which are common for all neurologically normal human beings. Human universalism partially challenges cultural relativism which exaggerates the variations amongst people.

Hundreds of human universals are listed as fundamentally cognitively common between people. The list of human universals includes fear of death, avoidance of incest, territoriality, rituals, mourning after death, pretend play for children, childcare, sharing food and other resources, social structure, collective decision making, envy, etiquette, weaponry, and attraction to aesthetics.

Human universals are part of the growing science of evolutionary psychology recognizing them as more influential than anthropology and biology. The main argument is that, just as all human beings have many common biological features, it follows that cognitive features will also have the same kind of commonality. Thus, any psychological differences between people are differences in degree and not in kind. They differ in extent, but not in type.

Using these sets of experimentally verifiable human universals has two main consequences. Firstly, it increases the value of further psychological experimentation and research. As long as the human genomes remain essentially the same over time, and common cognitive features between people are identified along with their characteristics, then every human culture and individual, and all those who will exist in the future will be easy to learn about. Secondly, human universals prove that people have more in common than psychology previously assumed, meaning that conflict arises in spite of commonalities instead of from them.

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