What Makes Us Social? (Jean Nicod Lectures)
A deep dive into the social mind-brain, examining the processes we share with other social animals and illuminating those that are uniquely human.
What Makes Us Social? is a scholarly but accessible exploration of the underlying processes that make humans the most social species on the planet. Chris and Uta Frith, pioneers in the field of cognitive neuroscience, review the many forms of social behavior that we humans share with other animals and examine the special form that only humans possess, including its dark side. These uniquely human abilities allow us to reflect on our behavior and share these reflections with other people, which in turn enables us to reason why we do things and to exert some control over our automatic behaviors. As a result, we can learn cooperatively with others and create and value cultural artifacts that survive through the generations.
Going beyond how we come to know ourselves and understand the mind of others, Frith and Frith investigate how we adapt mutually to make social interactions work. This book stands out in its application of a computational framework—one that lies at the intersection of psychology and artificial intelligence—to key concepts of social cognition, such as empathy, trust, group identity, and reputation management. Ultimately, What Makes Us Social? is a profound examination of the ways we communicate, cooperate, share, and compete with other humans and how these capabilities define us as a species.