What is the Most Unique Human Trait?


It’s not a straightforward answer. Sometimes a trait that we think is unique in humans is disputed when we find evidence of it in animals. We could say it’s caring for each other or empathy but these do appear in certain non human species so they’re not unique to us. We find this to be true, more and more often.

Check out this interview by James Nestor as he talks about the astonishing behavior of sperm whales. The size and composition of their brains may indicate a very high level of intelligence that we still have lots to learn about.

Or this article from BBC Future  a few years back that talks about this very issue.

When you pull together our unparalleled language skills, our ability to infer others’ mental states and our instinct for cooperation, you have something unprecedented. Us.

Culture, morality, art, helpfulness, many of these things have been discovered outside the human world and it may be that these exist at different levels in all living animals – just more pronounced in humans. What do you reckon is the most human trait and why? Perhaps it’s something not so positive that unfortunately arises in humans. After all humans have a great capacity for good and bad.

1 thought on “What is the Most Unique Human Trait?”

  1. I think the argument that human like traits exist in most animal species but the degree to which certain ones are shown in humans, is what makes them unique. Many animals have a capacity to help and do good things but it seems to be displayed most in humans. At least in some humans!
    The capacity to do evil seems to be very prominent in humans. Of course we see it in animals but we can usually see the motivations – for food, dominance, as a reflex. Perhaps there are species that could give rise to a serial killer like behavior in animals, but I haven’t heard of it (yet).
    The level of consciousness has to come into play here. We seem to be more aware of who we are and what impact we have in the world. We wonder why we are here and what happens after we die. Some secrets we will never know about non humans. Maybe have a higher level of consciousness than we realize?

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