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This title offers an insightful exploration into how our ability to learn makes humans and human nature unique. What makes us human? In recent decades, researchers have focused on innate tendencies and inherited traits as explanations for human behaviour. Renowned psychologist Arthur Staats thinks this trend is misleading – he suggests that what makes our species unique is our marvelous ability to learn.
The Marvelous Learning Animal first explores how evolution has endowed us with extremely versatile bodies and a brain of 100 billion neurons, making us especially suited for a wide range of sophisticated learning. It then moves on to present a new way of understanding humanness – in human evolution, in the behavioural nature of the human body, in child development, in personality, and in abnormal behaviour – a unified conception that provides new ways of solving human problems, and that lays the foundations for new areas of science.
Arthur W. Staats is professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaii.