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Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,270 ratings  ·  236 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 – oth
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Crown (first published January 1st 2013)
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John F Garrett I think you would find this book helpful in understanding the social need for the brain. Chapter 7 does delve into autism and how an autistic brain fu…moreI think you would find this book helpful in understanding the social need for the brain. Chapter 7 does delve into autism and how an autistic brain functions differently.(less)

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 ·  2,270 ratings  ·  236 reviews

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Gretchen Rubin
A compelling examination of how our relationships with other people have a tremendous influence over the way our brains work.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2013
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
Confession - I didn't finish this book, but I marked it as read!

The thing is, I quit reading it because of me, not because of the book (classic "its not you its me" speech!). This book is well-written and interesting, even fascinating. But I'm just not super interested in reading about the science of brains.

I picked this one up because I was preaching a sermon on the Trinity and thus studying how humans are relational. Since God-as-Trinity demonstrates that God is inherently relational (God exi
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Martha Love
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Graeme Newell
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive
It’s rare to uncover a book about brain science that has a sense of humor. I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot. I learned about the curious ways that evolution, our devilishly clever master builder, has crafted the human brain to maximize our chances of survival. It’s all about sociability.

After reading this book I thank God for wonderful things such as guilt, shame, ostracism, revenge and clannishness. Why? Because these negative social traits are proof of our most powerful survival ta
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
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
Abdullah Diab
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
A very good source of information, a real guide into the social layer of our brains, and the inner-wiring of our massive brain. I enjoyed reading it a lot, full of great ideas, well organised, many resources, well linked to papers and researches it's based upon.

The author did a very nice job in writing it, simplifying (as much as possible) the explanations, although sometimes the names of the different parts of the brain will give your brain a headache, but it's manageable and you'd get around t
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Social is a book for anyone who wants to understand human beings and minds a lot better. It’s essentially a research backed argument about how human social mind affects our life i.e.: behavior, learning and quality of life.

As a book it helped me to better understand my mind as well as the minds of others. I found tremendous value also understanding how the human mind learns better when it is socially motivated (i.e. learning to teach others rather than just to learn by itself).

I warmly recommend
Michael Huang
A collection of perhaps familiar arguments and classic experiments on why social connections are important part of individual lives: emotional pain due to social rejection/isolation is as real as physical pain (they trigger the same brain area); self control is good for you (Marshmallow experiment) but also good for social cohesion; etc.
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jacquelyn Fusco
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 the
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Kevin McAllister
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fic
Lieberman presents an interesting argument about how human brain is wired to be social, it is a matter of survival as well as a great advantage that differentiate man and other beings in the animal kingdom.

I find the evidence (experiments) in the book rather fascinating, especially the finding that the brain region related to making sense of social world is turned on active automatically from time to time. I didn't realize that getting into others' mind is such a great achievement, it is taken
Fascinating look at why we have a deep human need for connection. Your emotions impact your physical state, and your brain needs people. Even if you are an introvert (like me).

Lieberman shares his research and builds on the research of others. Using fMRI and other methods, they have been able to show how our brains relate to social situations - rejection, happiness, love, acceptance. He argues that the reason we have been able to survive, evolve, and grow as a species is due to our social commun
Jana Light
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It has all my favorite things: psychology, neuroscience, talk about fee-fees (emotions), compassion, hard truths... I'll be thinking about this book for a long time and probably looking up parts of the brain for an even longer time. Thank you, Lieberman, for letting me know it's hard for everyone to remember all the parts of the brain and what they do. That was very freeing, and your intellectual humility made this excellent book even more enjoyable to read. ...more
Josh Maher
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fun read even if you're not a brain or sociology nerd. The review of the different micro-regions of the brain and how they're used is fascinating. Much more in depth on the science than books like emotional intelligence, brain rules, grit, and so on. The comprehensive discussion though pairs nicely with books like those for a more robust understanding of how and why we consider our actions human. ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Confirmed a lot of what I already believed about humans and our genetic pre-dispositions toward sociability. Most fascinating is how psychological pain from social anguish looks the exact same as physical pain in FMRI scans. That alone should illustrate how important our social relationships are to our brains. It also shows why, as humans, we spend so much time reflecting on our relationships, like stories about relationships, care about our status, our reputation etc.

Our intense focus on our S
Kent Winward
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Two weeks after reading, nothing stands out, so I dropped it to three stars. This is in keeping with a lot of research that is showing just how social we humans are and served as yet another reinforcement for me of that fact.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
How proud they are of their silo that they experience as a universe.
Christian Van Cleave
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a good book with a lot of good knowledge but it's really hard to read since the first 9 chapters are all neuroscience but the last 3 chapters were really good and had practical applications and arguments for making business and schools more social to increase happiness and productivity. I wanted to get through this book faster but I HAD to take it slowly just to be able to understand what was going on in the bulk of it ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I so want to give this 5 stars for the content, but felt it was a bit dryly presented.
Susanna Testi
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best book I have read. High value content based on scietific research on our brain and how fundamental social interaction is for us. I would put 6 starts if I could.
Sarah Beth
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Two Readers in Love
Page 26 of this book was life-changing for me. This is the first time I read about the concept of the "neural seesaw." To (over)simplify: The default network of the brain is the social cognition network. "Typically, the more this network turns on, the more the general cognition network responsible for other nonsocial kinds of thinking turns off. Likewise, when people engage in non-social thiking, the general cognition network turns on and the social cognition network turns off. (I am using 'turn ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
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
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