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Behave by Robert Sapolsky Review

Let’s read this “Behave by Robert Sapolsky” review to see for yourself the value of this reading. Sapolsky answers the question of why we do the things we do. Neurobiologist, primatologist, and anthropologist Robert M. Sapolsky, in his book, Behave!, explore the behavior of all living things in general. He uses a literal epochal approach in his analysis. First, he processes specific factors that influence an individual’s response and behavior at a given moment, then gradually goes back in time, ending deep in the history of our species and its evolutionary legacy. This approach seeks to show what influenced our current response in the given circumstances.

Behave by Robert Sapolsky

The author’s initial level of interpretation is neurobiological, and the response and behavior of the living being is a reaction to an external impulse. Then Sapolsky moves to a broader time perspective:

  • In the recent past, what caused a specific impulse in the nervous system to trigger this behavior?
  • What hormones worked for hours or days before, and how did they affect the response of individuals?
  • How have behaviors been affected by structural changes in the nervous system in recent months, from adolescence and childhood to embryo and genetic conception?
  • How have a particular culture shaped individual beings, and what ecological factors influenced them?
  • How did evolutionary factors affect the origin of our species and life in general?

The result is one of the most inspired and comprehensive books on human behavior. Sapolsky brings together a subtle view of what creates human behavior by intertwining the various scientific sciences and their integration. Good or bad. The author uses all this as a starting point in which the present man faces some of the most pressing problems of modern society: tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace.


If someone wants to steal something on the road for us, then (simply and schematically) we first respond to it at a basic, neurological level while triggering a bunch of (hormonal and other) mechanisms in the body that cause us to deal with the attacker. We might just give him prey or do something else. Sapolsky then takes us thoughtfully, synthetically, and with an approach that increasingly links natural sciences and social sciences to the roots and causes of our concrete response. At a neurological, hormonal, and direct physical level, it processes our childhood, adolescence, and the environment in which we grew up and the development of our brains during this period. It identifies the importance of genes and the way they are expressed in a particular environment. He shows much of the current research in individual areas (such as exploring twins who have lived separately) and so on.

In general, Sapolsky is universal and honest in his approach. When he reaches out to a particular field, he first examines key authors and their findings, if different, draws and analyzes them, and finally draws his position from synthesis and his own experience.

The Second Part of the Book

In the book’s second part, Sapolsky captures human behavior from a broader social and cultural perspective. He introduces concepts such as yours and ours. He offers many answers (also relevant to our space) about how leaders negatively discriminate against other-thinking social groups. He analyzes theses on the moral behavior of Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind), respect for the authority of Stanley Milgram (Obedience to Authority) and Philip Zimbardo (The Lucifer Effect), and many other scholars who have tried to sharpen the image of human behavior in modern civilization through their research efforts. The result is, however, a large-scale but very broad-based work that carries the findings of many other books and people and thus offers a comprehensive insight into the workings of man.

About the Author Robert M. Sapolsky

Robert M. Sapolsky (1957) is an American neurobiologist, primatologist, and anthropologist. He studied at Harvard and Rockefeller Universities and today teaches biology and neurology at Stanford University. He is the recipient of many accolades, including the MacArthur Foundation Prize, and the author of many high-profile books, including works such as Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (1994), The Trouble with Testosterone (1997), and A Primate’s Memoir (2002). In his latest book, Behave !, which is the author’s best book, he explores in an interdisciplinary way the reasons for human behavior and the decisions we make.

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