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Human Nature: A Comparative Overview

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The differences and similarities between human and non-human animals are constantly up for discussion and an overview is needed. Four central fields of behaviour related to (1) complex symbolic activities, (2) tool making and tool use, (3) culture and social transmission and (4) sociality and morality, are surveyed and comparatively analysed to identify particular human characteristics. Data from a broad range of sciences are brought together to introduce light and shade into the picture. The differences found inside field four are especially striking. Humans are “ultra-social”. Evolution seems to have favoured a more collaborative kind of sociality in our species, and features like other-regarding preferences, large scale cooperation with non-kin, and strangers as well as third-party sanctions, appear to be derived properties of humans that have evolved after Homo and Pan diverged.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Aarhus University, Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark;, Email:


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