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Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  463 ratings  ·  81 reviews
We are profoundly social creatures – more than we know.

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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Crown (first published January 1st 2013)
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The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggThe Brain That Changes Itself by Norman DoidgeBuddha's Brain by Rick HansonChange Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. AmenSocial by Matthew D. Lieberman
5th out of 48 books — 71 voters
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Humans are naturally social animals (yes, even those who are anti-social). The question is: why? Is it simply to forward our population? Or is there more to it? Professor and award-winning neuroscientist Matthew D. Lieberman looks at this astounding but rather new field in “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect”.

Lieberman begins “Social” with a basic overview of his thesis as he sets out to prove that the brain feels social pain in the same way as physical, that social thinking is a separ
When I got to the passage explaining how Tylenol works as effectively on emotional pain as it does physical pain, I actually said "Wow" out loud. There are many such "wow" out loud passages in this book. Lieberman (and his colleagues, all of whom he generously mentions) has conducted quietly revolutionary research on humanity's need for social connections and he explains, clearly and in a manner accessible to laypersons, how our human brains are built to crave emotional bonds with others and how ...more
Regan Norris
Fascinating perspective that argues strongly for relocating social needs as the bedrock of Maslow's pyramid--a central fact of our lives, from the brain out, rather than optional "needs." Lieberman makes a slew of connections between social psychology, biology, economics and political science, full of familiar academic and cultural references. I hope in future research he looks at how wiring for sensitivity/insensitivity (both have complementary value to society) and introversion/extroversion (w ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Have you ever read a book about something you were deeply interested in and finished it and thought you somehow now knew less about something than when you first started the book?

That’s how I feel after finishing this book.

I usually read a nonfiction book and take notes as I read. I tried to do that with this book, but found that when I got to the end of the book I hadn’t written a single thing down.

I’m not sure that I really understood anything in the book.

(I reveal these things with honesty
Liebermann argues that our social needs are one of the primary drives of our behavior. In this book, he cites several new studies using fMRI that show our behavior is influenced by much more than pain and reward. He begins by discussing the evolution of the social brain, explains how altruism is favored over selfish behavior, then gives an overview of the current studies done on mirror neurons. Readers who have already read V.S Ramachandran’s books and Marco Iacoboni’s book, “Mirroring People” w ...more
Enjoyable and fascinating read. Lieberman presents several key concepts of the 'social brain,' weaving together research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and sociology with historical and economic context, along with personal anecdotal evidence. Whereas I found undergraduate neuroscience coursework to be tedious at times, Lieberman is deeply talented in engaging his audience. I actually looked forward to seeing his diagrams of various regions of the brain and neural systems related with ...more
Martha Love

The author, Matthew D. Lieberman, presents and well defends his theory that human beings neurologically have a predisposition to be “social” and this has shaped the evolution of the species toward becoming more and more socially connected.

I recommend this book to students of life, educators, psychologists, and parents of young beautiful minds. This is an important book! Why, because it explains “us” and our true human nature to
I really tried to enjoy this book, but it just fell short of its mark.
The author continually cites evolution for the reason our brains are "wired to connect," but never gave any real reasons. I would have liked a little of an anthropological perspective, or some evidence of why our brains have changed over time, rather than just "evolution made us this way."
I finally gained some interest around the tenth chapter (there are twelve in total) and will admit to using some of the information in conv
Splendid, well written, interesting and insightful look at what neuroscience is telling us about how connected we are to each other. We are a profoundly social species and should bear that in mind in how we construct our organizations, educate our children and pretty much everything else. I enjoyed this book very much and it is on the re-read soon pile
Ok we all know humans are social; that's why the punishment prisoners dread most is solitary confinement. But what the author of Social makes clear by the use of fascinating and detailed examples, is just how social we really are. It shapes just about everything that we do or want to do. A very interesting read.
Juan Carlos
Dr. Lieberman has done a great service in writing this introductory work of social neuroscience. The book is focused on illustrating the different regions of the brain that are involved when we are being social and highlighting how it got to be the way it is through evolution. The book is primarily a work of science, but throughout you will feel like you are reading a book on existential philosophy because of the implications the work has on understanding our motives that are most of the time bl ...more
Social is a captivating look between the correlations made in the brain with social cognition, dubbed social cognitive neuroscience. The book focuses on three major adaptations in the brain “that lead us to be more connected to the social world and better able to take advantage of these social connections to build more cohesive groups and organizations.” The author, Matthew Lieberman, combines social science with philosophy and theoretical explanation of phenomena. For instance, he discusses at ...more
Jacquelyn (Weinbrenner) Fusco
Seems well researched and well-explained. Very important and interesting topic. I love the last chapter on how to change education so that it's more effective. I struggled to pay attention and retain information in school and I think I would have benefited greatly from teachers engaging my social brain more.
I feel like I learned a little more about neurology too- makes me feel smart :)
I think this research has all sorts of interesting & important applications. The author touches on some of
What makes humans social beings?

Our desire to connect with others is an important behavior that is evolved and our brains have complex biochemical mechanisms to support this. What makes our basic need for someone to love and respect us, or we like to love and respect someone? These basic social needs are present at birth to ensure our survival and we are guided by those needs until the end, says UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman, the author of this book. For example, the mammalian young are born
Sarah Beth
I won this book as a giveaway on Goodreads.

Describing something as "social" is quite a broad label. Similarly, I found that Social is a collection of diverse, far reaching topics that are linked solely by their fit under the umbrella term "social." This book is a collection of studies and research results that show that the human brain is driven by making connections with others much more than we think.

I enjoyed the discussion early in this book about the "default network" or the regions of th
Morgan Blackledge
The book is ambitious. It covers an immense amount of ground. Way to many interesting ideas than I feel like listing or summarizing at present.

The author Mathew Lieberman has a TEDX talk that essentially summarizes the book. Google:The Social Brain And Its Superpowers : Matthew Lieberman, Ph.D. at TEDxStLouis.

WARNING: the talk is actually much less exciting than the book. Lieberman is a fantastic, engaging and quite persuasive writer, and the book is extremely well crafted. There were more than
Rob Holmes
I always knew we were social beings, but not to this extent. This book pieced together the way we are biologically wired to connect in a way I didn't know existed. Lieberman accomplishes a very difficult task. He proves that we, from a very young age, are wired to connect to others and makes a convincing argument how the social cortex of the brain is the key to the survival of all species. For anyone who has intellectual curiosity at all about why humans interact, this is a must-read. His studie ...more
Diana Suddreth
This is a wonderful book on the neuroscience of our human need for social activity. Well-written and easy to read, Lieberman shares research, research experiments, and results with the reader in an easy to digest manner. The bottom line is that our brains NEED social activity, and science backs that up.

This is a great book for teachers to read. It may be a great help to improving education if educators understood the ramifications of conducting a non-social classroom and the benefits of tapping
Poyan Nabati
Social makes a case for why we are built to be social. Evolution has formed our brains, not to be able to solve just any complex set of problems, but specifically to be able to manage our social lives. Keeping track of the relationships between the individuals in a group is costly, and the cost increases exponentially with the group size. Thus, going from a group size of a few individuals to some 150 people, which is a common group size for humans some 10.000 years ago) requires quite a bit more ...more
Dvir Oren
It's a good book, with interesting suggestions. I didn't realize that social pain can be felt as much as physical pain, or that social skills are so crucial to our survival.

Another interesting example was that doubling our income has the same effect on our happiness as does volunteering once a week! Damn, didn't see that one coming.

I recommend you read the book only if you're interested in the way our brain works, the author gave a ted speech available on youtube that sums up 80% of the book in
The author writes an accessible book for the non-expert while never talking down to the listener who really wants to understand the working of the mind. He has a narrative that ties all of the pieces of the book together that current humans are always using their brain, and when we are not thinking about physical or abstract objects directly and our mind is at rest we are 'mentalizing', that is, we are thinking about ourselves and our interactions with others leading to the almost unique human c ...more
This book carefully pulls together the research on a few key ideas. First, our brains act differently when doing logical analysis and when analyzing people, how they may react, and how we fit in, etc. Second, our default mode is the "social brain" and it seems to reflect our evolutionary need to be part of a team to survive and thrive. Third, social pain from rejection and other causes shows up in the brain in the same ways as physical pain. Conclusions? Pay attention to social needs in your own ...more
Tim Jin
Growing up with a disability, I always had a hard time being social no matter how many friends I had. I always felt like that I stuck out like a sore thumb. Ironically, I overcame my fears and more people knows me than I know them. At some point in my life, I became a rolling billboard for most people because of my unique ability to use my feet. I only have a handful of friends that I'm close with, and rooms full of names that I choose to not to know. I also choose not to have a social media sta ...more
Absolutely fantastic book on social human beings, what makes us social and how can we use it to be smarter, happier and more productive. Lieberman explains why's and how's of social part of us.
The book is composed with 5 parts:

1. Beginnings - Introduction to book, broad description about the content.
2. Connection - Explains how are we connected to other people, also explains how emotions work and it's basic needs.
3. Mindreading - Have you ever wondered how can you feel what other person feels j
John Kaufmann
Excellent read. The book not only makes the case that we are social animals, but presents strong evidence how it arose in our evolutionary history, including how certain behaviors are linked to particular areas of the brain. The only reason I didn't give it 5-stars is because there were sections where the author delved a little too deeply into the mechanics of the brain. Other readers may relish that.
Dimitris Tzouris
Very important book for parents and educators.
"If Facebook were a religion (and some argue that it is), it would be the world's third largest behind Christianity (2.1 billion) and Islam (1.5 billion). Americans spend 84 billion minutes per month engaged in religious activities - and 56 billion on Facebook."
Amy Madnick
Jan 04, 2015 Amy Madnick marked it as to-read
Shelves: healthcare
I heard Dr. Lieberman speak about his book tonight at UCLA, and was riveted. So many things he spoke about resonated as true from my own life experiences, but he changed how I understood them. I can't wait to finish what I reading so I can start "Social."
This was quite interesting. It expands upon the author's assertion that social connections are a basic function of humans, which seems sensible enough. He bases this on the default mode network, which he claims emphasizes social connections. This is one of those assertions that don't really seem to apply to me, a few more of which come up during the book. I grant that I do have a bit of an unusual mind, so perhaps it is that way for other people, and more research is simply required. In any case ...more
Yes, of course, humans are social creatures. But how so? From a neuroscience perspective, this book illuminates just how incredibly social we are and the mechanisms of the social brain. Fascinating!
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