What makes us social

Introduction to THE BOOK – by Chris

For some years, Uta & I have been saying that we will write a book together about social cognition. Now, thanks to the Institute Jean Nicod, this has become a certified commitment. We have written many papers together, but never a book. You might ask, will this be the end of a lovely relationship? Read more…

Blurb – by Uta

All animals are social. Their brains have mechanisms that evolution fashioned over millions of years. They are largely hidden in the manner of built-in instincts. Like other instincts they run on auto-pilot and require little effort. But social life even in flies is not all automatic and instinctual. Read more…

Epilogue – by Chris

Shortly after we began writing the last section of our book, the COVID-19 virus started spreading through the world and we had to stay at home, socially isolated. A striking result of this crisis was that science suddenly became centre stage. Instead of disparaging experts, politicians started appearing on TV, flanked by scientists, and claiming to be guided by science. The most obvious scientific input relevant to the crisis concerned the nature of the virus and mathematical modelling of how the epidemic was likely to spread. But the major problem was how to minimise the effects of the pandemic. Since we knew that the virus was highly contagious, it was necessary to reduce contact between people by instituting a ‘lockdown’ to stop it spreading. But, to understand the effect of this radical change in behaviour, we need to know something about how groups of people react when faced with threat.

This is one of the many topics explored in our book “What makes us social”, which, at last, is ready as a complete first draft.

Read more…