Why We Are Wired to Connect

Scientific American:

When we experience social pain — a snub, a cruel word — the feeling is as real as physical pain. That finding is among those in a new book, Social, and it is part of scientist Matthew Lieberman’s case that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water. He answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.

You argue that our need to connect socially is “powerful.” But just how powerful is it?

Different cultures have different beliefs about how important social connection and interdependence are to our lives.  In the West, we like to think of ourselves as relatively immune to sway of those around us while we each pursue our personal destiny.  But I think this is a story we like to tell ourselves rather than what really happens.

Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed.  When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems.  We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts.

Read the whole story: Scientific American

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