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Roots of Human Behavior

Roots of Human Behavior

Professor Barbara J. King, Ph.D.
The College of William and Mary

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Roots of Human Behavior

Course No. 168
Professor Barbara J. King, Ph.D.
The College of William and Mary
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Course No. 168
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Course Overview

While human behavior is usually studied from the historical perspective of a few hundred years, anthropologists consider deeper causes for the ways we act. In this course, anthropologist Barbara J. King uses her wealth of research experience to open a window of understanding for you into the legacy left by our primate past.

By looking for roots of human behavior in the behavior of monkeys, apes, and human ancestors, you explore such questions as:

  • Are language and technology unique to humans?
  • Have human love and loyalty developed from our primate cousins?
  • Do ways in which human males and females relate to each other come from our primate past?
  • Have we inherited a biological tendency for aggression?

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12 lectures
 |  30 minutes each
Year Released: 2001
  • 1
    The Four Facets of Anthropology
    Anthropology comprises many ways to study humanity, but a biological anthropologist focuses on the evolution of the human, anatomically and behaviorally. We begin with the evolutionary link between humans and other anthropoid primates that was posited by Charles Darwin more than 100 years ago. x
  • 2
    Social Bonds and Family Ties
    The very idea of a "solitary anthropoid" is a contradiction in terms. Monkeys and apes are social animals, whose life experiences are defined by their place as an individual within a group. These arrangements have practical advantages and are emotionally and developmentally meaningful. x
  • 3
    The Journey Away from Mom
    An anthropoid infant's progress to adulthood is one many of us would recognize. Beginning in absolute dependence, the infant adapts to the world through exploration and play. Some will stay "at home" to form the core of their native communities, while others will disperse to find new homes. x
  • 4
    Males and Females—Really So Different?
    Forty years ago the stereotype of males as promiscuous aggressors and females as passive mother figures held sway. Studies of the most recently discovered great ape, the bonobo, changed this uncomplicated dichotomy dramatically. x
  • 5
    Sex and Reproduction
    As with male-female differences, ideas on sex and reproduction have withstood revision in recent years. Variations in behavior across species complicates any conclusions we might draw about a fixed and clearly defined sexual nature in humans. x
  • 6
    Tool Making—Of Hammers and Anvils
    New research shows that great apes engage in spontaneous problem solving and other advanced cognitive behavior in producing tools for grooming and feeding, and even escaping from captivity! A study of orangutans in Sumatra suggests that social tolerance and cooperation play a critical role in this behavior. x
  • 7
    Social Learning and Teaching
    A conundrum faced by any primatologist is determining whether an advanced behavior has been spontaneously invented, learned through a trial-and-error, or acquired through teaching. What is certain is that learning is a dynamic process that is actively pursued, not passively absorbed. x
  • 8
    Culture—What Is It? Who’s Got It?
    No concept other than culture has been more controversial historically. Many great ape communities have developed group-specific behaviors that have survived and been passed on over time, and some of these actions are even thought to show conceptual understanding and convey symbolic meaning. Whether this represents culture depends on your definition of the term. x
  • 9
    Dynamics of Social Communication
    It was once thought that communication in great apes and monkeys was limited to expressions of emotion and states of arousal. But data on predator-specific alarm calls among vervet monkeys in Kenya suggest that anthropoid primates can communicate information to achieve dynamic social coordination. x
  • 10
    Do Great Apes Use Language?
    Great apes raised in an enriched human environment exhibit an expanded range of linguistic skills, showing the equally important roles played by both biological dispositions and the rearing environment. Are our complex languages unique in kind or only in degree? x
  • 11
    Highlights of Human Evolution
    More than four million years ago the hominids emerged, and by 30,000 years ago Homo sapiens had outcompeted and replaced other hominids. Yet despite bipedalism, mastery of fire, and construction of stone tools that render the hominids unique, a surprising number of their behaviors are found in our anthropoid relatives: the monkeys and apes. x
  • 12
    Exploring and Conserving a Legacy
    Anthropoid primates are valuable as creatures in their own right and as a critical lens through which to view ourselves. How, then, should we deal with the forces that imperil them, from medical research to economic development and the deadly bushmeat trade? Dr. Barbara J. King offers a balanced assessment. x

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 12 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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CD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 6 CDs
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 64-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider
  • Glossary

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Your professor

Barbara J. King

About Your Professor

Barbara J. King, Ph.D.
The College of William and Mary
Dr. Barbara J. King is a biological anthropologist and Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at The College of William and Mary in Virginia. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology from Douglass College, Rutgers University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Professor King's research interests concern the social communication of the great apes, the closest living relatives to humans. She has studied ape and...
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Reviews

Rated 3.8 out of 5 by 41 reviewers.
Rated 4 out of 5 by Roots of Human Behavior Content is good for someone new to the field of study but is very dated (15 years old). Instructor is very knowledgeable in the field but tends to have a very monotone presentation which is sometimes hard to hold the student's attention. July 10, 2016
Rated 4 out of 5 by Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds audio download version There are indeed many gems, along with Lucy in this study of non-human primates. Dr. Barbara King, a biological anthropologist, (a discipline that I did not know even existed) delves deeply into behavioral aspects of apes and monkeys both by observation in the wild and zoos and by the use of controlled experiments in the laboratory. For example, professor King details language understanding, not only by the famous Koko, but the teaching of ASL to some chimpanzees and the ability of others to learn some symbolic language by observation. Most impressive. Professor King also details some of her own (and others) field work, mentioning not only the successes,, but also the difficulties that this work entails For example who knew that an already funded research could be derailed and changed to something else simply by the decision of a government to not grant a visa at the last minute. Or that field work sometimes had to be curtailed due to reacquiring supplies or to write observations. Another area that I found fascinating was her explanation of the use of tools by some apes and monkeys. And that in some cases that tool use could be taught and passed along. And more. Dr. King also gives a short review of hominid evolution (including the aforementioned Lucy, among others). Although she presents plenty of her own findings and views (always being properly scientifically cautious), she never neglects to credit the many other researcher's findings and opinions. Some other reviewers have disliked professor King's presentation style. For me. her delivery while not overly dynamic, was clear, thoughtful, concise and logical and often including a bit of humor. Recommended. June 2, 2016
Rated 2 out of 5 by Roots of Human Behavior I thought this would be more about humans than apes and monkeys. Not so. Was disappointed to learn that it was mostly animal behavior. Not interested in that even though it may apply somewhat to human behavior. January 29, 2016
Rated 3 out of 5 by An overview of primate behavioral research This is a worthwhile set of lectures, but it is not really about the "roots of human behavior." It is about research in nonhuman primate behavior at the time the lecture was given - specifically, the speaker's research and experience. Unfortunately, it does not say much about why we humans behave as we do. I would have liked to have heard more on male-female interaction, social hierarchies, aggression, cooperation, emotions, and the "roots" of human environmental destructiveness. In the last lecture, she gives an impassioned plea for endangered ape species, a vital concern to be sure. But she offers no insights from behavioral primatology or evolutionary theory into why we tend to destroy other species. Do other species "over-grow" their habitats, wipe out other species, and degrade the ecosystem? Does observation of other primates help us understand ourselves any better? If so how? But the lectures do contain a lot of interesting material, stories, and anecdotes. January 25, 2016
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