Human Universals

Understanding the universal qualities of all humankind and how they evolved may hold keys to how we shape our future.

  • Human Universals (What Makes Us Human): Traits All Humans Share

    Human evolution has produced a remarkable set of common characteristics, which is what makes us human. Some are physical, like the skeleton for walking upright, a vocal tract for speech, and dexterity for tool use. We share a common set of emotions and the capacity for self-awareness, abstract thinking, knowing right from wrong, and doing complicated math. All are examples of the hundreds of traits shared by all human beings in the world today.

  • 211 Universal Human Traits

    In Human Universals, Anthropologist Donald E. Brown posited a list of several hundred human traits, “features of culture, society, language, behavior, and psyche for which there are no known exception”—characteristics that represent the evolution of our species’ mental adaptation to communal life.