Theories of Human Nature in Social Psychology


Human nature is a set of various, interconnected and unique aspects of human life and development. A significant number of factors that influenced the formation of man and his historical nature led to a situation in which various theories and judgments arose in order to explain and describe human nature. According to the main notion of materialist theory or the theory of reality, social sciences should not be limited by psychological or biological assumptions and notions (Messerly). In materialist discussion, human nature cannot be comprehended utilizing individual methodology since additional attention should be paid to society and social interactions.

Human Nature

Human nature is a notion that refers to the underlying inclinations and qualities that humans are thought to possess naturally, such as modes of thinking, perceiving, and behaving. The phrase is frequently used to describe humankind’s significance, or what it encompassed by being human. This application can be contentious since there is disagreement about whether or not such an aspect persists. Human nature debates are generally considered to be a popular issue in philosophy and social sciences, and the notion may spark intense discussions. While the two factors are separate, arguments about human nature can be frequently linked to debates about the relative role of genetics and environment in social progress and human development.

As a result, the notion is still used in domains including genetics, evolutionary theory, anthropology, neurology, economics, and social science, where diverse theories claim to have gained knowledge and full comprehension of human nature. Concerning human development, the desire to live longer and prolong the course of life is a characteristic of most living organisms, including creatures and thus humans (Baumeister and Bushman 39). In addition, human nature can be potentially contrasted with human traits and attributes that differ by society, such as those related to particular cultures.

Materialist Theory

Karl Heinrich Marx was believed to be a German philosopher, scientist, economist, sociologist, theorist, writer, and socialist activist. Marx’s moral and ideological ideas shaped later cultural, economic, and political history enormously. Marxism is a set of critical views about community, economics, and government that claim that human societies evolve via class struggle. Marx was a materialist, professional scientist, and an unbeliever who believed he had established a scientific method for studying economic history (Messerly). He was seeking broad socioeconomic rules that apply both synchronously and diachronically to human nature and history. Marx realized that economic and technical growth would result in societal, economic, and intellectual change when viewed diachronically throughout time.

Karl Marx focused his studies on practical aspects of life rather than exclusively abstract. Agriculture, enslavement, aristocracy, and the industrial revolution all had a profound impact on society and politics (Messerly). The key discovery of Marx is that these developments can be explained by a materialist view of history (Messerly). In general, materialism is a theoretical materialist worldview that maintains that matter is nature’s underlying essence and that all things, particularly subjective experiences and awareness, are the product of material interactions. Thus, Marx’s theory was based on the fundamental notions of practical living and simplified versions of the essence of human life.

Human Nature in Materialist Theory

Considering the notions of human nature in terms of the theories of Marx, which include materialist theory and theory of reality, they are distinct in comparison with other statements. People’s behaviors require the presence of other individuals, and what individuals do is influenced by engaging with others in the community (Messerly). Due to these facts, Karl Marx was more concerned with the social aspect of humans than their physical nature and evolution (Messerly). What may appear natural in one civilization or time, such as certain functions for women, may not be identical in another (Messerly). As a result, Marx did not believe that sociology could be reduced exclusively to biology or psychology (Messerly). Some aspects of human nature cannot be described by individual circumstances and events, but must be described by the community (Messerly). In other terms, in this concept and structure of the study of human development and human nature, the individual approach to the consideration of issues was initially recognized as incorrect. Consequently, not only individual traits and causes, but also the consequences of group social interactions and contacts, had a significant impact on human nature.

Materialist Theory and Realism

In order to provide argumentation and critique, it is obligatory to define another theory or claim that in a specific manner contradicts the initial one or lacks explanations and discussion. For instance, it is feasible to identify the statement and theory related to pure realism. For periods in scientific explorations, realism, in the broadest sense of the term, has been one of the fundamental systems of thought in socialist ideology and political philosophy. Due to the general universality and importance of realism, all of its premises and principles can be thoroughly scrutinized. Einstein and Bohr used philosophical reasons to discuss realism and limited realism, that is, realism with relativistic restrictions on causality (BIG Bell Test Collaboration 213). Philosophical realism is frequently handled as a standpoint toward other subjects rather than as a stand-alone position. The assumption of realism regarding a given sort of item is that it has a mind-independent presence and is not merely a representation in the eyes of society. Thus, realism is based on the notions of conscious thinking and a practical view of things.

At the same time, in terms of critique and comparison, realism, or classical realism, is far behind materialist theory. It can be explained by the fact that materialist theory encompasses broader statements and conclusions. The materialist theory provides people with an understanding of human nature and the predestined place of man in society by demonstrating practical examples of the realization of working potential. In other words, the materialist theory describes society and all spheres of its activity through labor and the need for this labor as one of the main features of society. To some extent, it can be assumed that the theory of the materialist is an augmented and in-depth version of classical realism. Furthermore, it can be emphasized that the theory of the materialist is based on the basic principles of realism.


To summarize, human nature is a concept that refers to the fundamental tendencies and traits that humans are supposed to have inherently, such as thinking, seeing, and acting in certain ways. Karl Marx concentrated his research on the actual elements of life rather than the abstract. In compared to other claims, the conceptions of human nature in terms of Marx’s theories, which comprise materialist theory and theory of actuality, are unique. People’s activities necessitate the existence of other people, and what people do is impacted by their interactions with others in the community. To some extent, materialist theory may be seen of as an enlarged and expanded form of classical realism.

Works Cited

Baumeister, Roy, and Brad Bushman. Social Psychology and Human Nature. Cengage Learning, 2020.

BIG Bell Test Collaboration. “Challenging local realism with human choices.” Nature, vol. 557, no. 7704, 2018, pp. 212-216.

Messerly, John. Who are We? Puget Sound Publishing, 2015.

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PsychologyWriting. "Theories of Human Nature in Social Psychology." October 3, 2023.