1. Introduction to Human Behavioral Biology

Published 2011-02-01
(March 29, 2010) Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky gave the opening lecture of the course entitled Human Behavioral Biology and explains the basic premise of the course and how he aims to avoid categorical thinking.

Stanford University

Stanford Department of Biology

Stanford University Channel on YouTube

All Comments (21)
  • @jesusquiroz1069
    Lectures hit different when you’re not pressured by grades.
  • @hamasaki000
    I'm so grateful for living in an era where this kind of content is available like this. I'm from Brazil and I wouldn't be able to listen to this amazing classes if Stanford and professor Sapolsky weren't so kind to make it available online. Thank you.
  • For 11 years I've been coming back to this. It is still one of the most profound learning experiences available. Sapolsky its truly one of the finest human gems we had a chance to share time with on this planet.
  • @wrath0rah
    I hope he’s still teaching. He is a wonderful professor, and I can tell he enjoys his work.
  • @AmandaSbarros
    I'm Brazilian and I was feeling a little bit down for lacking money to study abroad using my university program. However, here I am watching this astonishing lecture. I loved this professor and I feel so excited to learn againπŸ₯ΊπŸ€©
  • 🎯 Key Takeaways for quick navigation:

    00:00 πŸ“š The course starts by illustrating a scenario of abnormal behavior, highlighting the potential influence of genetics.
    01:26 🧬 Genetic influence on sexual orientation, prenatal events affecting political opinions, and using biology to understand religious beliefs are discussed.
    03:17 🌑️ Certain events, like having a period, brain tumors, junk food consumption, and steroid use, have been used as defenses in murder cases due to hormonal impacts.
    06:34 πŸ’” Body's physiological state can dramatically affect brain functions, and vice versa.
    08:30 πŸ“Š Humans simplify complex problems by categorizing information, but this can lead to oversimplification and misunderstanding.
    11:20 🎨 The example of colors and language differences demonstrates how categories affect perception and memory.
    15:08 πŸ“ž Categorization affects our ability to accurately recall sequences, like phone numbers.
    17:52 πŸ” The example of subway stops shows how categories influence interpretation and prediction.
    21:18 🧠 The course aims to explore the complex relationships between physiological processes and behavior, avoiding oversimplified explanations.
    23:44 πŸ” The course structure involves tracing behaviors back through various factors, including hormones, development, genetics, and evolution.
    24:13 🧬 Behavior is influenced by biological factors such as hormones and genes, leading to the interaction of endocrinology and genetics.
    25:35 πŸ€” Challenge: Avoid falling into categorical thinking while analyzing complex behaviors and influences.
    27:02 🧠 Historical figures in psychology and biology exhibited flawed categorical thinking, underestimating the complexity of human behavior.
    32:43 🌍 Human behaviors are characterized by their varying levels of similarity and uniqueness compared to other species.
    36:59 πŸ”„ Recognize moments when humans share ordinary physiology with other animals but use it uniquely for empathy, compassion, and stress response.
    40:16 πŸ’¬ Humans exhibit behaviors that are unparalleled in the animal kingdom, such as language use and complex sexual practices.
    43:07 πŸ“š The course is designed for students with diverse backgrounds, and additional catchup sections will be provided for those unfamiliar with certain topics.
    45:31 🧠 Behavioral biology is relevant in various aspects of life, from decision-making to understanding mental health, making informed choices important.
    46:00 ⏰ Weekly sections, midterm, and final exams will structure the course, with breaks provided during class for convenience.
    46:29 πŸ“š Two assigned books: One by the instructor (optional), another is "Chaos" by James Gleick.
    47:23 πŸŒͺ️ "Chaos" challenges reductionism; behavior is complex like a cloud, not a clock.
    48:49 πŸ“– Lectures on chaos and complexity, readings available online, varying levels of depth.
    50:45 πŸ–₯️ Course materials online, lecture notes, Q&A, office hours, sections for different backgrounds.
    52:39 πŸ—‚οΈ Utilize skilled TAs, regular and advanced sections, evolving sections for different needs.
    53:07 ⏰ Class is five units due to heavy class time, taped lectures available online.
    54:04 πŸ“† Midterm on May 3rd (7:30 PM), final on June 4th (5:15 PM), multiple-choice format due to class size.
    55:29 🧠 Midterm focuses on basic understanding, final emphasizes interdisciplinary thinking.
    56:54 πŸ•’ Final clarification on exam timings.
  • @ericablanco4932
    The fact that we can access this lecture without having to attend Stanford is mind-blowing. What a time to be alive!
  • I’m not even really interested in biology or science in general but I’ve been watching random college lectures on YouTube and I found this. Now I’m hooked. This guy is just so amazing and smart. When you aren’t worried or stressed about grades, you can truly focus on learning the content more. Especially if you have an exciting teacher like this. Using humor makes you remember stuff as well.
  • Coming back on that lecture, you're an absolute gem Robert Sapolsky. I've discovered this video a year ago, searched my way through the infite possibilities of life, finally started my bachelor in psychology, and I head on becoming a researcher in evolutionary psychology or something like that if things go well and if I still like it. Hopefully I see you some day at Stanford University
  • First of all, i can't properly express how grateful I am that I live at the age of moder technology - that I am able to attend such a great lecture while cooking in God forgotten country, to laugh along those students, to come to new approaches and views beside them. I really do hope that the professor knows that making this available to everybody is act of unbelievable kindness.
    Secondly, lectures like his make me remember why I love learning so much; why I always should stay curious about things around me even though my own college years are gone.
    And third thing? I am a teacher, too, and I aspire to be the same way this man is - full of humor, kind, knowledgeable and approachable, truly making people to want to seek the knowledge, to think.
    Once again, thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.
  • @robbysimz4339
    I watched this video when I was in high school and it was the reason why I decided to take AP Biology. Today I'm almost done with medical school. Dr. Sapolsky, I owe you more than you know!
  • @tobiramatime
    I'm a first year psychology student and this course is a blessing! I was looking for behavioral biology explanations for things we as humans do and why we do it. first lecture has opened my mind not to think in categories and everything here is beneficial! Thank you very much for uploading this, I'm looking forward to listening to more. I have no doubt that this is going to be a very advantageous for my professional growth.
  • @newage885
    This lecture is an example of how you are drawn to certain subjects in school solely because of the way it was taught. One can develop interest in any discipline just by learning from the good teachers. God bless you for making these lectures publicly available.
  • @albarainbow
    Amazing lecture. Whenever he listens to students giving answer he is paying all the attention. His passion to share what he loves and dedication as a teacher is what makes him incredible!!😍
  • @marcocattaneo9974
    As always, the difference between enjoying a subject and not enjoying a subject is the way it's presented, and whether or not it's presented with actual genuine passion. Clearly, Robert is doing a fantastic job here. Kudos and praise to him. Many thanks for making this publicly available, it's what all universities should do with all their subjects.
  • @theoriginal4279
    This is awesome! Thank you for making it available to everyone!πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘
  • I'd forgotten how much I love psychology and education. This is a wonderful course. Thanks for posting!
  • @kathryntitus9647
    Every human should listen to this entire series. It gives you so much insight into human anthropology, behavior etc.
    These videos are pretty old at this point but nonetheless pertinent. I think Sapolsky is still alive and there's absolutely nothing boring about listening to him, he keeps things moving right along, and a bit of humor gets thrown in here and there. I'm so thankful this series was conserved for humanity.
  • I started watching this playlist some five years ago... I'm now a grad student... in neuroscience. Sapolsky... this very video, actually... was my first introduction to the field... that field became my life. Returning to this is a crazy experience.
  • @ditta07
    I'd love to be able to get full access to this course. The professor is very likeable and what's more, he seems to care deeply about getting all the knowledge and information across to whoever is interested in having it. I think he is right in saying that this should be thought to everyone ( preferably not at gunpoint :D). At this moment I feel jealous of everyone who has had the chance to take this course.