In psychology, nativism is a theory that says that most basic skills are hard-wired in the brain at birth. This theory is the opposite of the theory called the blank slate, or tabula rasa. This says that humans have almost no skills or abilities at birth. It says that they learn these skills over the course of their life. People who believe in nativism (within certain limits) include Jerry Fodor, Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker. These psychologists believe that humans are born with a set of abilities that help them learn other skills, such as speech.
Some mammals do seem to inherit emotional reactions. Monkeys fearing snakes is an example. Most of the behaviour of insects, reptiles and birds is inherited in some detail. Mammals, however, show a greater ability for learning than other kinds of animals.
Charles Darwin, in The expression of emotions in man and animals (1872), showed that the way most emotions were shown was common between human cultures. He said that this was inherited and had been the result of evolution. Behaviorism says that man's behaviour is not affected by his past. People that believe in evolutionary psychology think this is wrong. They have accepted this idea.