Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hard-Wired Emotion

At the Mind & Its Potential conference yesterday Matthew Lieberman and Julian Short presented on the science of social cognition and described why 'fairness' tastes like chocolate. It appears humans have a large part of the brain dedicated to social interactivity, including our notions of fairness. If you're unsure what fairness is, just ask an average 7 year old. Unfairness includes social exclusion. Our evolutionary experience was that most individuals who are not part of the social group don't survive. You may be fantastic, independent, unique and ... eaten. Fairness activates the same area of the brain's cortex as eating chocolate, and social rejection hurts just like physical pain.

That night at the Dendy I saw Social Network, a fascinating story about the beginnings of Facebook, and the pain and destruction of flaming, and it all came together. Social networking on Facebook, Twitter, texting etc is so popular not because it's trendy, it is 'hard-wired'. In addition to flight, fight and freeze we have a 4th embeded reaction - to see ourselves in the mirror of other's reactions, to confirm our social inclusion. The behaviour of survival has not changed for 20 million years.


  1. So... I should tweet and eat chocolate?
    Great thoughts. Thanks Col.

  2. no chocolate now Shirley but lots of tweets not sweets!!
    very interesting Col