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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why are humans called social animals?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30779points) September 21st, 2010

I’ve often heard the phrase that people are social animals. What makes us that way? Is it our penchant for forming families? Is it our grouping together in towns and cities? Is it because we have to have a group to have a proper tailgate party at a football game?

Why do we band together?

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10 Answers

Master's avatar

Because “together we stand, divided we fall.” —Pink Floyd

YoBob's avatar

It is all of those things you mention.

As to why we tend to form groups, I’m suspect that it is one of those questions that you could ask 100 sociologists and get 100 different answers.

It is my belief that during our evolution as a species we, like many other species, discovered that we live better when we cooperate, at least on the local level. Of course, when you get into larger divisions of limited resources among competing social groups things get a bit more complected. I suspect this is responsible for the birth of commerce as well as lawyers and, when extreme cross purposes exist, warfare.

iamthemob's avatar

Evolution has made it beneficial to our survival to form groups, and to learn to judge who to trust and who to avoid. We take an abnormally long time to develop to the point where we can survive on our own, mostly because our brains need to develop further outside the womb (if it was fully developed at the time of birth the act of birth would be impossible). Simultaneously, human mothers show surprisingly little attachment comparatively, so both other humans are expected to help in the care and also we as infants need to interpret intentions in others quickly. All of this makes us particularly likely to form into groups and judge the intentions of others (and therefore depend on them).

Nullo's avatar

Social, because we are a gregarious lot. Animals, because taxonomists have us listed under Animalia, on the grounds that we are neither plants nor fungi nor viruses.
Personally, I feel that we warrant further distinction, given how generally awesome we are compared to the rest of the critters out there.

snowberry's avatar

We are social creatures, and we have animal bodies…

CMaz's avatar

We are animals.

That like sticking our noses in other peoples business, then talking about it with other people.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think there are at least two different answers to this question.. one is biological, one is philiosophical. One. we’ve learned along the evolutionary path that the way to success is to be a part of a group. Various kinds of support can be had in a group and can make the difference between life and death. I agree with much that’s been said already about the biological aspects, though I would like to add that humans wither without some sort of socialization. Socialization seems to be an innate human need (Maslow & Harlow).

Social interaction has the added benefit of learning social mores. This leads me to the philosophical answer: we cannot know ourselves absolutely without another pair of eyes to mirror our behavior. Reality is subjective and, at least to some degree, who we are is a reflection of how other people see us. For an easy example, beauty – you would not know you were beautiful unless other people’s reactions made it apparent.

wundayatta's avatar

Social means we form tribes. This is our way of protecting ourselves and making ourselves more competitive. Social, because there are complicated rules governing our relations.

ETpro's avatar

There are numerous animals, humans being one, that are called social animals because they often live and survive in cooperative groups. Other animals are called solitary animals because they tend to go it alone. Chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orcas, dolphins, parrots and wolves all social animals. And while they and humans are all among animals having higher levels of intelligence than most, so are orangutans and they are mostly solitary animals. And ants, bees and termites are all highly social but certainly not greatly intelligent.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Humans are referred to as social animals as they are innately prone to live in groups consisting of complex social systems. The majority of what humans learn is taught to them by family and fellow members of their society, and the majority of productive activities that they do involve or atleast directly affect members of the society in which they live. It’s believed (based upon studies performed on animals and feral children) that if deprived of social contact humans frequently tend to become hostile, paranoid and depressed.

Why are humans social animals? It’s likely because we’re physically weak. We lack any manner of venom or significant armour so with the array of dangerous predators and obstacles that exist and have existed it has always been in our mutual interest to group together. Had we not we likely would have became extinct some time ago.

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