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Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,288 Ratings  ·  143 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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Heather Koshiol This book describes on how the brain processes social information. There's one section in the book (within chapter 7) that describes some studies…moreThis book describes on how the brain processes social information. There's one section in the book (within chapter 7) that describes some studies about autism. You might find the book interesting overall but may not find it to be instructional; on the other hand, you might gain some insight into "normal."(less)

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Atila Iamarino
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adorei a leitura. Achei que fosse um tema batido, mas a perspectiva do autor e a maneira como o conteúdo é amarrado foi excelente. Algumas noções foram redundantes em relação a livros que também citam o trabalho do Daniel Kahneman, mas vale pela abordagem em relação ao comportamento social. Em especial o paralelo com o Stumbling on Happiness e a noção de felicidade trazida muito mais pela realização social do que por dinheiro.
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.
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
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
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
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
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Caidyn (BW Book Reviews)
This is one of those books that makes itself out to be very easy to understand and follow, but I had problems and I actually have talked about many of these topics before. It was an odd mix of familiar and unfamiliar for me, meaning that when I sort of spaced out what I was listening to, he threw in an unfamiliar concept and I would miss it, only to realize it far too late to be able to back up the audiobook. So, I missed a bit. He'd reference structures or ideas that had been discussed a chapte ...more
Milhouse Van Houten
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 ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Juan Carlos
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Lou Fillari
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
It seems my brain is not wired to connect. Or I'm in denial, which is more likely the case.

Well researched book and other some such comments but all social science books are well researched. Different sections just irked me in strange ways. I'm doubtful about certain studies and the results. Or I just disagree with the results, which makes no logical sense.

Mostly, I hate the idea that my brain is totally social and here I sit denying that I want interaction with humanity. Maybe I'm higher up t
Diana Suddreth
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Marjorie Turner
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Very interesting .. and nicely presented. Our brains are built to promote our social engagement "our sensitivity to social rejection is so central to our well-being that our brains treat it like a painful event." And Tylonol helps! The book walks us through how social rewards are more important than financial and our need to belong drives much of what we do. It was particularly interesting to read about the Trojan Man - and that we pick up our attitudes along with the masses without even realizi ...more
Grzegorz Skorupiński
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly researched, very well-written, lots of conclusions based on recent social brain studies, from which many were surprising to me... And some just made a lot of sense and made me think how poor we are still in understanding the importance of our social needs and make the best use of our social brain. Too bad it's not in Polish because I have no idea how all those brain parts he talks about are called in my native language. I'll have to read it again more carefully. It deserves a long re ...more
Rob Holmes
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Meera Sapra
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
'Social' is a fascinating read that helps you learn about how evolution has shaped the social brain, making us want to connect and belong. Different aspects of the social brain have been talked about in detail, along with the underlying physiological discoveries and explanation for these. I enjoyed reading every bit of this book, especially the last two chapters that talk about how learnings from the social brain can be applied to the worlds of education and work.
John Kaufmann
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
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“Although I was deliberately dismissive of this idea at the beginning of the chapter, the real answer is, “Well, yes, sort of.” Nathan DeWall, together with Naomi Eisenberger and other social rejection researchers, conducted a series of studies to test out the idea that over-the-counter painkillers would reduce social pain, not just physical pain. In the first study, they looked at two groups of people. Half of them took 1,000 milligrams a day of acetaminophen (that is, Tylenol), and half of them took equivalently sized placebo pills with no active substances in them. Both groups took their pills every day for three weeks. Each night, the participants answered questions by e-mail regarding the amount of social pain they had felt that day. By the ninth day of the study, the Tylenol group was reporting feeling less social pain than the placebo group.” 3 likes
“It’s hard to find meaning in what we do if at some level it doesn’t help someone else or make someone happier.” 1 likes
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