Common human behaviors explained by science

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Humans are interesting creatures. Despite being the only organisms in the animal kingdom to literally conquer the world, some of the most interesting things about us are actually the day to day behaviors that our species does for seemingly no reason. Good thing science can explain them!

Making promises to yourself

promise

You’ve definitely been in this situation; you have the opportunity to do something which you know may not be the best thing for you, like eating one more slice of pizza and promising yourself to work out afterward, or buying that shirt and convincing yourself that it’s really an “investment.” But who are you really trying to convince? Yourself? Another person?

Well technically, it’s both! When people talk to or make promises to their “future self,” many people view that as if they are making it to another person. Scientists have shown that the same parts of the brain light up when making promises to “future you” as they do when making a promise to another person. Your brain thinks that your future self is someone completely different!

It’s so cute you want to eat it!

cute

For some reason when people see a cute little baby or puppy their first urge is to give it a nibble! If something is cute enough, people will even say that they want to “gobble the little thing up.” If you think about it, that’s really weird. So why do we do it?

Well, there are two prevailing theories – Some people say that it’s because cute things give us a huge dopamine surge, causing our brains to get confused and want to eat the cute little thing that we’re looking at. Other scientists say that it’s a reaction that our brains have from before we evolved into humans. Just like dogs, cats, and even lions tiger and bears will nip at their cubs, so too at one point did our ancient ancestors as a way to build trust and love!

Getting tired at night

tired

Human beings, as a whole, are generally awake in the daytime and sleep at night. But why? There are plenty of other creatures on the planet who do the opposite! What is it that makes us tired at night and wake up in the morning?

It turns out that our brains have a natural clock inside of them which tell us when we should be falling asleep! We release a chemical called “melatonin” in our brains when we no longer see sunlight, thus making us more sleepy and lethargic. Meanwhile, our brains stop releasing this chemical when it sees sunlight – which is the reason why it’s so hard to stay asleep when sunlight floods your bedroom!

Hugging

hugging

Hugging is such a strange behavior. We just grab onto another person for a few seconds, and just let them go! But why do we do it, and why do we enjoy doing it so much?

It turns out that hugging releases a chemical in our brain called oxytocin. This chemical is released when we really trust someone or are really attached and happy to be around someone. When two people hug it shows that they trust and on some level even love each other, and the chemical hormone released when that happens only serves to increase that bond.

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