Are You Hard-Wired For Compassion? How About Cruelty? : NPR

Are humans hard-wired for hazing and cruelty? Or are we hard-wired instead for cooperation? Commentator Barbara J. King explains why the popular discourse about a hard-wired human nature fails to understand human behavior.


That discourse promotes or suggests the idea that much of human nature is hard-wired; it’s innate and pre-determined. It may touch on hard-wired hazing, as in the Chronicle piece (the term “hard-wired” is used in the article itself, which concerns the widespread “grip of hazing” on college campuses, not only in the interrogative headline)…


In a weak sense, we humans do have some tendencies inherited from our prehistoric past. For many of us it can be harder to feel empathy and extend compassion beyond our closest social networks, out toward people we may judge as different from us.