google.com, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Human Nature Urban Legends 4289

Human Nature Urban Legends

Although not a clear category based on particular stories’ content or theme, human nature—our ideas of how we think people will normally react—is often illustrated in the behavior of characters described in urban legends. In my words in the source cited below, human nature in urban legends reveals peoples’ tendencies to “jump to conclusions, seize at opportunities, miss the point, fudge the data, complain, criticize, rationalize, sympathize, brag, gloat, miss the boat, jump ship, blindly follow tradition yet yearn to be different.” Part of the appeal of many urban legends is undoubtedly the sense that were we in the same situation, we might well have reacted in the same way and have been similarly embarrassed or injured.


“The Baby Train” provides a good example of human nature supposedly at work: Given the opportunity, the story suggests, couples will “do what comes naturally,” in this instance, have sex if accidentally awakened at an early hour. Other popular legends depict people telling “white lies” or committing minor crimes when they think that nobody will notice. Human nature can work both ways in a story; for example, in “Take My Tickets, Please!” a man leaves a pair of game tickets for a poorly performing local team in a conspicuous place in his unlocked car, believing that someone will probably steal them. Instead, another disgruntled fan following the same psychology leaves his own two tickets beside the originals.

Even when a story illustrating human nature is proven false, as is the case with “Dial 911 for Help” (someone can’t find the 11 button on the phone dial), the story continues to be repeated and believed because “that’s just how dumb some people are!” Perhaps believing in urban legends is itself a good illustration of human nature.

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