Human Behaviour

Human nature is an extremely complex topic that when brought into the public domain is often filled with vast simplifications that aren’t necessarily true under most conditions. An understanding of human nature is essential to reading the behaviour of others such that you do not come to the wrong conclusions and allows you to empathise with others – not taking their actions so personally. It also could allow you to better understand yourself (at least it did for me).

Title: Introduction to Human Behavioural Biology
Link Notes Type Video Lecture
Length 40h total
Complexity Beginner
Author Dr Robert Sapolsky
Description: Introduction to Human Behavioural Biology is a course at Stanford University that requires no background knowledge in biology. This course enlightens you on the complexity of human behaviour and shows that people are not as accountable for it as we might believe. It introduces you to the thinking behind various disciplines that have different perspectives on the reasons behind the behaviour (sexual, aggressive etc). Hopefully it will make you more empathetic towards other humans such as those in poverty and those with mental disorders. Robert is a phenomenal lecturer who keeps you interested with his direct, honest personality and multitudes of jokes and stories. Stress and depression are not covered in this course but in Robert’s book below. On an interesting note he was brought up as an orthodox Jew, but realised his indoctrination at the young age of 13 and is now an atheist.
Title: Stress – Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers
Link Notes Type Book
Length 212 pages
Complexity Beginner
Author Dr Robert Sapolsky
Description: This book follows on from the Introduction to Human Behavioural Biology course going into detail about the nature of stress with subtopics such as: psychological stress, effect of poverty on stress, depression, sleep deprivation, social isolation, ways of coping with stress etc.
Title: The Authoritarians
Link Notes Type Essay
Length Long
Complexity Beginner
Author Bob Altemeyer
Description: This free-access psychology paper allows people to understand the way authoritarians think. An authoritarian is someone who gives absolute obedience if they are the one receiving the orders, or someone who expects absolute submission to their own authority if they are giving the orders. Bob runs through various measures of assessing how authoritarian people are, the reasons why they are like this, and possible ways to prevent people from thinking in this way. He offered the paper for free on the internet so that he could spread awareness of this mental condition.
Title: How to win friends and influence people
Link Notes Type Book
Length 292 pages
Complexity Beginner
Author Dale Carnegie
Description: This book essentially explains how logic means very little in the face of paleolithic human emotions when you try to make your case to someone else. It goes through a list of advice and examples of them being used in practice, to show how a few simple changes to the way you act can have absolutely profound impacts on others.
Title: Methods of Persuasion: How to use psychology to influence human behaviour
Link Notes Type Book
Length 240 pages
Complexity Beginner
Author Nick Kolenda
Description: Unlike the previous book, this goes into more detailed psychological methods that influence other people, and are backed up by studies.

Fresco: Investigating behaviour (video)

Century of Self (documentary) –

Sapolsky: Biology and Psychology behind Depression (video)

50 Must read psychology books
Help guide – A non-profit guide to mental health and well being
Supernormal Stimuli – any stimulus that elicits a response stronger than the stimulus for which it evolved — even if it is artificial
Psychological defense mechanisms
Cognitive Dissonance
– the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
Doublethink – the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.
Denial – an important psychological defense mechanism with multiple stages
Dunning–Kruger effect – cognitive bias wherein relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate



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