In recent years, a thorny debate has arisen as to whether or not modern-day women have a “maternal instinct”. This is due to the totally conscious decision of some women not to become mothers.
According to the definition, to qualify as an instinct, a behavior must be automatic, irresistible, triggered by something in the environment, occur at a particular time, not require training, be unchangeable, and occur in all individuals of a species.
The problem with these instincts is that they do not apply well to human beings. Even when they’re hungry, people don’t go looking for food thoughtlessly, as almost every animal on the planet does.
For this reason, psychology believes that instead of instincts, humans have “impulses”.
The idea is that we have a set of innate impulses that drive our behavior in pre-established directions. Impulses are not irresistible, as the instincts are, but they are innate.
Maternal instinct or reproduction impulses?
Reproduction impulses would not only explain why humans continue to reproduce, as a species that does not reproduce is at an evolutionary dead end, but it also explains why there are individuals who prefer to find the exact moment to do so, or simply not to do so.
This distinction between the so-called maternal instinct and impulses towards reproduction is determined by another aspect of humans’ life, namely, the society.
Unlike other animals, we have been able to develop a culture, a society and technologies, which determine our behavior as much as biology would. For example, before the arrival of contraceptives, sex has almost always resulted in children. After contraceptives emerged, having children became a choice.
However, the advent of new socio-economic models caused the choice to be increasingly delayed or even discarded. Physically, economically, personally, and emotionally, having a child is considered burden by some women.
On the other hand, money saving, studying, climbing the social ladder, or traveling sound like more appealing options.
According to a University of Kansas study, the desire to have children is found in both men and women, altogether, so, it’s wrong to call it maternal instinct. Therefore, reproduction impulses are more suitable in the socio-economic environment of modern-day women and men.