One useful way to look at this is through the lens of human evolution and development. This suggests we are all born with certain patterns of behaviour – innate behaviour. Babies smile when they are smiled at and up to the age of six months grip a finger that is placed into their hand. These are primitive behaviours that help us to survive – in the case of babies smiling, this helps to bond with their mothers; the gripping of that finger is an instinct left over from when our primate ancestors were carried on their mothers’ back, so needed to be able to cling onto any available support.
As we grow, we develop ways of behaving and thinking based on our experiences and what we are taught in our family, at school, in our communities, and at work and play.
Our minds have evolved to build templates from our experiences for use in gauging future experiences. We learn to recognise things by how they look, sound, smell, feel, and taste. Much of what we do relies on us recognising such patterns and acting on them. Our minds have become incredibly efficient at doing this. One consequence of this is that it also makes us lazy when it comes to consciously examining the matching of external patterns to internal templates.