I taught psychology for several years at a university level. The question of whether humans have "instincts" is not cut and dried, yes or no.

If one considers instincts to be fixed action patterns produced by specific stimuli, which are not learned or affected by learning, no, humans don't have them, and there aren't many in animals either -- many things which seem to be "fixed" can be affected by learning.

We have lots of inborn tendencies, having to do with eating, drinking, safety... Babies don't need to learn how to suckle, or how to cry for attention. However, how we channel these as we age and gain experience is enormously affected by learning. Sexual and aggressive motivations are not learned, but if and how we channel or display them is culturally dependent.

And, we can train some animals to display or channel their motivational states as well. Think of trained attack dogs.

If we call motivational states instinct, yes indeed we have them. If we say instincts are patterned behavior unaffected by learning, we don't have them.

(Reflexes are not usually considered instincts. Many are simple nervous system responses, which may not need brain processing. Responses that need some brain processing may potentially be affected by learning).

That said, how instinct is defined becomes a political question, and it goes in and out of fashion whether or not humans are considered to have instincts.

Hope this is helpful and not TMI!
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