Booklist | ‘Social’ by Matthew D. Lieberman

Are we predisposed to use Facebook? The literature on cooperation is growing, particularly in light of new neuroscience research tools.  A new book asks the question about the the neurological basis for cooperation.

“How can we explain why folks cooperate, ensuring that they will earn less money and their partners will earn more?” Matthew D. Lieberman asks in “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.” If people are motivated only by self-interest, any explanation is elusive. But Lieberman, a professor of biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, thinks people are even more motivated by something beyond self-interest: the drive for social connection.

“In addition to being self-interested, we are also interested in the welfare of others,” he writes. “This, along with self-­interest, is part of our basic wiring.”

via ‘Social,’ by Matthew D. Lieberman –


4 thoughts on “Booklist | ‘Social’ by Matthew D. Lieberman”

  1. I thought that this novel sounded fascinating. I almost pursued a psychology degree and so mixing these two worlds for me is great. In international relations, the prisoner’s dilemma is a huge concept. It can help to explain why countries choose to go to war or to make deals. Realists would not know how to handle this book at all because it suggests that we are not inherently self-interested. I am very glad that there is some science behind this. I have always had a problem with that theory, especially when you take into account the actions of individuals throughout history that have sacrificed themselves for another cause. The most practical piece of this review was that perhaps Tylenol could possibly solve mental pain as well.

  2. I find the concept of this book comforting. I always get a bit depressed when I see how seemingly selfish the world has become. It’s nice to know that our brain is always examining social connections, that we are constantly analyzing situations and taking other people into account. It gives me hope. This book sounds fascinating. It also explains why people can waste hour after hour just staring at other people’s lives on Facebook and Twitter. Despite our self-interest, we still care about others. Thank goodness.

  3. This idea in social psychology is refreshing, usually we learn about how self-oriented humans are. It is a worthwhile pursuit to figure out if humans as a whole aren’t in a competition of the fittest (most successful). I especially liked the last part of the article when he talks about the connection between rejection and the area of the brain that corresponds to pain. People need other people, and we feel more joy seeing others succeed, or succeeding concurrently with others than just having lonesome personal success.

  4. I really liked this article and the book does sound incredibly fascinating. I do agree with the fact that the majority of people are not always self-interested as so many people believe. We do care about others and we need others in our lives. I think we focus too much on the selfish acts of others, but there are constantly examples around us of people who are caring. I do think the average human being is naturally self-interested, but I also think that we are just as caring, and this caring side of us can often take control over the self-interested part.

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