Quick Review: BEHAVE – Human on their best and worst.

What is long and hard, and filled with baboon references? Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave. Here are some key takeaways and lesson from this fantastic book on human behavior.

Video Review

Video Review of BEHAVE: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky

Notes and Highlights

📝 “The frontal cortex makes you do the harder thing, when it’s the right thing to do.” The frontal cortex consumes a lot of energy which makes your willpower limited. Have you noticed how quick you are to judge and how hard it is to be a good person you are when depleted after a hard day at work?

📝 Initially demanding frontal tasks, like controlling your bladder as a child, becomes easier with time. Understand: repeated good behaviors and they will become automatic!

📝 We Habituate..

Understand: Artificial pleasures (designer food, drugs, VR porn etc..) throws our systems of the scale making us unable to appreciate the natural.

📝 Humans delays gratification for an extremely long time. No other animal restricts calories now to look good on the beach next year! 😆

📝 “The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference”

📝 Win-Win solutions rewards more dopamine than Win – Lose ones. 👍🏻👍🏻

📝 Alcohol = more aggressive behavior? No, alcoholic only evokes aggression in people prone to aggression AND people that BELIEVE that alcohol makes you more aggressive. Like testosterone only increase aggression in people prone to it in the first place. Testosterone will enhance any behavior that helps us maintain status.


I was applying for days off at work. I was going to ask right before lunch, but caught myself and did it the proper way instead; Judges famously give harsher judgments when they are hungry. I upped my chances of getting an approved application with ease by waiting until after lunch.

This was not a matter of life or death, like in the case of certain legal trials, but I think this story points towards something worth thinking about; What are the result of a lifetime of strategic moves that take advantage of the quirks of biology and human cognitive biases compared to a life where these hidden influences are ignored?


A detailed and nuanced summary of where we are at with the study of human behavior–a must read book for the student of human nature!
(Update 2024: Sapolsky’s new book “Determined: A Science of Life without Free Will” is even better, and you should consider reading that book instead. It combines the lessons from “Behave” with a breathtaking and mindboggling take on Free Will. Find out more about “Determined” in my review or video review on youtube.)


⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5

Further reading:

If you enjoyed BEHAVE by Robert Sapolsky then you might like these books:

Determined – Robert M. Sapolsky
The Third Chimpanzee –
Jared DiamondReview
Why Buddhism is True –
Robert WrightReview
The Righteous Mind –
Jonathan HaidtReview

Find more great reads on my book reviews page and the Great Books List
Video Reviews every week on YouTube

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