Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman


social brain 1

Renowned psychologist Matthew Lieberman shares groundbreaking research in his book Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect. If you’re looking for a deep dive into social neuroscience, Lieberman delivers. In this book, he reveals that our need for connection is even more primal, more hard-wired than our need for safety, food or shelter.

The implications are many. For example, our brain often uses its spare time to process thoughts about other people and relationships. So, when you’re not in need of thinking about anything at all, the normal default is to think about people and relationships.

“Most of us have been taught that our bigger brains evolved to enable us to do abstract reasoning . . . increasing evidence suggests that one of the primary drivers behind our brains becoming enlarged was to facilitate our social cognitive skills.”

The book, Social, also explores the concept of “mind reading” and points out that, as children, we learn very quickly how to read other people. By the time we hit adulthood, we’ve logged in way more than 10,000 hours making sense of people.

“The mentalizing network does something incredibly special to facilitate our dealings with other people. It allows us to peer inside the minds of those around us, take into account their hopes, fears, goals and intentions, and as a result, interact with them much more effectively.”

These two fascinating concepts are only a sample of the many presented in the book. Along with these sort of concepts, Lieberman delivers valuable one-liners such as:

“A kind word is worth as much to the brain in terms of rewards as a certain amount of money.”

“Cooperation is one of the things that makes humans special.”

“ . . . our support of others could contribute significantly to our well-being.”

social brain 2Lieberman claims that the research he delivers in his book, Social, can help us all be happier, more productive and more successful people. I would agree. I’d also add that his insights can help us improve the learning environment within schools, augment your overall sense of well-being, and make our work and home life more productive. I suggest you watch Matthew Lieberman’s TEDx talk and consider purchasing the book (visit here). Take a look at Lyn’s current reading list for other topics that interest you, download it from our resources here!