Monday, October 1, 2007

Research on instincts. Your connection with the caveman.

While it is known that I am a advocate of prehistory research, it is rare to find others who actually contribute something to the cause. But here is an article on why our instincts still tie us to our ancestors of 50,000 years ago. Some of the highlights I agree with:
Immersed in a rich, biotic environment, it would have been imperative for our ancestors to monitor both humans and non-human animals. Predators and prey took many different forms—lions, tigers and bears—and they changed often, so constant eyeballing was critical.

While the environment has changed since then, with high-rises emerging where forests once took root and pampered pets taking the place of stalking beasts, our instinct-driven attention has not followed suit.

"Having this pop-out attentional bias for animals is sort of a vestigial behavior," said study team member Joshua New of Yale University's Perception and Cognition Lab.
Hell yes. For thousands of years, humans have been eyeballing every damn thing in sight. It was one of the few protections from getting eaten. Guys, you ever find yourself just standing around eyeballing something other than women? Probably all the time. God forbid an airplane fly over cause everything temporarily stops until you actually see the plane, then life can go on. So now when that other party asks what you are doing, you can reply "Just following my instincts." One of the other points I found interesting.
Overall, the subjects were faster and more accurate at detecting changes involving all animals compared with inanimate objects. They correctly detected nearly 90 percent of the changes to "living" targets compared with 66 percent for inanimate objects.

In particular, the students spotted changes in elephant and human scenes 100 percent of the time, while they had a success rate of just over 75 percent for photos showing a silo and 67 percent for those with a coffee mug.

Though we are more likely to meet death via an SUV than a charging wildebeest, the results indicated subjects were slower and less successful at detecting changes to vehicles than to animals.
Now doesn't that give you a kick in the pants? To me, that explains why people blindside cars so damn much. We are basically operating machinery that our bodies haven't caught up with in determining distance, velocity, trajectory so well yet. Now you have even more reason to be scared of soccer mom in the SUV.

So go out and get in some nature and let those instincts out. I was dropping advice on a fellow blogger the other day and going on about much the same thing. If you don't get out there and let those primal senses do their thing, it will make you tense, edgy. You have to let that instinct release itself. If you got an outdoor cat, hang out with them for awhile. They may be domesticated, but still have all the great qualities of an instinctual predator. You can learn a lot by watching them.


laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Butterfly said...

terrific post!

Paul said...

Puts "trusting your instincts" in a new light...