Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

With 232 ratings

By: Matthew D. Lieberman, Mike Chamberlain, et al.

Purchased At: $18.00

In Social, renowned psychologist Matthew Lieberman explores groundbreaking research in social neuroscience, revealing that our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic, than our need for food or shelter. Because of this, our brain uses its spare time to learn about the social world-other people and our relation to them.

It is believed that we must commit 10,000 hours to master a skill. According to Lieberman, each of us has spent 10,000 hours learning to make sense of people and groups by the time we are ten. Social argues that our need to reach out to and connect with others is a primary driver behind our behavior. We believe that pain and pleasure alone guide our actions. Yet, new research using fMRI-including a great deal of original research conducted by Lieberman and his UCLA lab-shows that our brains react to social pain and pleasure in much the same way as they do to physical pain and pleasure.

Fortunately, the brain has evolved sophisticated mechanisms for securing our place in the social world. We have a unique ability to read other people's minds, to figure out their hopes, fears, and motivations, allowing us to effectively coordinate our lives with one another. And our most private sense of who we are is intimately linked to the important people and groups in our lives. This wiring often leads us to restrain our selfish impulses for the greater good.

These mechanisms lead to behavior that might seem irrational, but is really just the result of our deep social wiring and necessary for our success as a species. Based on the latest cutting edge research, the findings in Social have important real-world implications.

Our schools and businesses, for example, attempt to minimalize social distractions. But this is exactly the wrong thing to do to encourage engagement and learning, and literally shuts down the social brain, leaving powerful neuro-cognitive resources untapped.

The insights revealed in this pioneering audiobook suggest ways to improve learning in schools, make the workplace more productive, and improve our overall well-being.

I had this professor for one of my college courses and this book was a required reading. It was a really easy read, and many of the claims/statements were super obvious. Like someone else had already mentioned, he didn't really support his research claims with extensive experimentation, aside from the fMRIs. Also, he didn't give a perspective of introverts and people who aren't overly social (and don't want to be). This is an important aspect of being social. Overall I enjoyed it, but also found it to be a bit superficial- I want more.

- nayeli_patel

So my background is in therapy, and am always looking for books to enhance my understanding of human nature. This is one of the best books I've read, and feel the implications discussed in this book are some of the most important we need to be aware of in appreciating who we are. The author made a persuasive case with this book that our social connections really make or break us. There was just so much good information in this book that I see myself rereading it over the years to fully internalize and understand what to do with this important information.

- emmitt_allen

Psychology, sociology and anthropology have been dominated by authors and theories that can be described kindly as “imaginative.” Lieberman here outlines recent developments in neuroscience that finally offer the hope of understanding the connections of mind to society in a way that is authentic and perhaps even practical. Highly recommended.

- kaysen_diaz

This book had so much Opinion.. I'm surprised there was any place left for FACTS...

- saige_white

Read the first few pages and this book and it is mind blowing...i am a foreigner living in the US and one of the things i have struggled with is blending in and building solid relationships with people, for different reasons including my accent, cultural differences and lack of enough commonality. Social pain is just as real as physical pain, and the author does an excellent job of demonstrating ...can wait to finish the rest

- cecilia_ortiz

Matthew Lieberman has brought together so much science on why we do what we do and feel how we feel. This was a fascinating book on the field of social cognitive neuroscience. So well written. Anyone with an interest in the human brain will love this book.

- marina_gonzales

The author is very knowledgeable on the subject and the studies he presents are interesting. I wish he would go into more detail with some of the studies that he talks about. While some of the neuroscience findings are surprising, the ultimate conclusion that humans have a social brain is not. I would still recommend this book.

- hana_kim

Very readable book on how humans are hard-wired for connection and how that impacts all aspects of our lives. Not overly clinical or technical but comprehensive, and an easily-digestible writing style. Fully recommend if you're trying to understand the human condition and/or psyche at a deeper level.

- ryann_watson

Matthew Lieberman’s book is good: it reads well, the structure is helpful and linear for the general-interest reader while also offering some depth for the detail-oriented bookworm or specialist. However, it sometimes overstretches in its interpretation of the brain activity generated in the experiments it considers. This is a classic problem, and the fact that it is starting to be solved within the neuro-science community means that the field is less likely to end up as the phrenology of the 21st century.

Lieberman makes clear that there are brain networks primarily in charge of social, self-referential and “mind-wandering” thoughts, and other networks that take care of problem-solving and analytical thinking, and these networks are both considered in building the case for how our brains make us human.

And two things for sure make us human: the fact that you can think what the other person thinks that you think (called higher-order theory of mind, and beautifully illustrated by the rock/paper/scissors game), and that we can project ourselves into the future (called long-term planning prediction and anticipation). No other animal can go that far; and the fact that humans created culture means that we have greatly complicated the inferences we can make regarding the evolutionary advantages of specific but complex behaviours such as altruism.

This apparently “human-only” characteristic is also well considered here, and it’s worth weighing Lieberman’s hypothesis about why we tend to avoid boasting about helping others and see it as a rewarding thing in itself.

Lieberman strikes me as an honest scientist, diligently searching for answers about why we feel pain on a psychological level (the end of a relationship, the death of a parent), or why we feel rewarded by praise or when we give money to strangers.

These are not new ideas, but Lieberman, like all original researchers, asks the right questions, looks for the best experiment to do, and tries to answer in light of real neural mechanisms. Classic social scientists are afraid of his kind. He is a threat to all those dark-matter classical psychologists who either backbench from half-dead theories or perform experiments sitting in their black boxes, where the mechanisms of “how behaviour happens” appear to have nothing to do with the workings of the brain.

I might not agree with some of the concepts Lieberman crafts from his experiments, but I am pleased that he shows determination in building a mechanistic, brain-grounded account of who we are. And surely one of the uses of this book should be as a spark to think about precisely that.

Lieberman the scientist is a firm believer in the theory that we are wired to connect, or, to put it rather better, that we have evolved, through natural selection, to be social animals that thrive now in almost all “ecosystems” using the unique feature of mentalising; and that we cannot avoid thinking, and thinking what the other person is thinking…capisce? He brings the book to a courageous conclusion in his attempt to use “social brain” concepts to guide policymaking. I cannot help but applaud any bid to use scientific evidence to back decisions for learning, business or politics in general. The way we are and how we think must be taken into account when deciding the kind of society we want – and the good news is that it can be based on real research into who we are.

- jermaine_perez

Arrived on time and as described. Fabulous read - I love this book!

- noelle_wright

It's an amazing book! I really enjoy it! Also, it arrived in good condition.

- kevin_smith

great book!

- bradley_robinson

One of the best books on neuroscience I have read

- shane_collins

Extremely informative.

- hailey_bailey


- bailee_chavez

O produto é de excelente qualidade, tendo em vista o material do papel ser super confortável, não obstante ser imprescindível exímio cuidado no manuseio, a textura é finíssima e delicada, muito agradável, parecendo ser feita de seda. Eu Gostei bastante do material do livro. Excelente.

Entretando, a mercadoria veio com dois amarrotados, um ligeiramente amassado transversalmente no terço médio da capa e outro verticalmente, partindo da parte medial da borda lateral indo até a parte medial da borda superior capa, como tbm apresentou pequena lasca na quina da borda direita superior e da borda direita inferior vista no plano sagital do livro.

Sem embargo os pormenores destas cincas, eu aconselho a leitura do livro, diferente de minha retórica, ele emana uma linguagem muito simples e de fácil compreensão. Excelentíssimo livro.

- brian_taylor

I would like to explain the reason for giving two stars. It could have been lesser, but I accept my lesser understanding of the brain model. The book is way too technical, which part does what in the brain, what were the tests about and many more. So for a neuroscientist it could be a relevant subject, and maybe they may not even refer to it as for them it would be way too basic.

For the general masses, it doesn’t give any clarity on the why and what, I guess it’s all about how. The subject is interesting, “Social”, but just it’s way too far away from it. I can imagine a goal and a football being kicked, but the ball goes nowhere near the goal, it’s a miss

- marissa_richardson

O livro dá uma revisão panorâmica nos circuitos e regiões cerebrais envolvidas na cognição social ("quente"). Ela é contraposta a regiões da memória de trabalho, cognição "fria". Facilmente compreensível por pessoas sem experiência prévia em neurosciências

- parker_garcia

This book reinforces so much of what I have experienced first-hand as a drum circle facilitator: we need one another. As much as we need food and water and air to breathe, we need the warmth of another living being. In a world where "social" is thrown around more as "social media" we need to remember that although we can use social media to connect on some levels, nothing replaces being in close proximity with others. We need to hold hands, share long hugs, talk and laugh and eat and sleep together. Resistance is futile! But the challenges lie with folks who experience strong introversion and social anxiety, in getting enough of what we all fundamentally need: human contact.

- dorothy_smith

I have not finished the book at the writing of this review.

I think the content of the book is very interesting. Much of it is well written but I do remember some parts where paragraphs felt like they just dragged on. This maybe parts that I was just less interested in, but I don't remember this happening in other books that mentioned similar topics.

- ezra_morgan

Es demasiado científico y se podía haber resumido en cincuenta páginas. La verdad es que si que le sacas partido a muchas de sus teoría sobre el cerebro y como reacciona al contacto social. Es el típico libro que parece que te has olvidado de él pero luego sus teorías las recuerdas inconscientemente. Merece la pena pero cuesta de leer. Te va a hacer ser más sociable seguro.

- charles_carter

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