The Social Animal Book Summary - The Social Animal Book explained in key points
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The Social Animal summary

David Brooks

The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

4.2 (98 ratings)
23 mins
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    The Social Animal
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    We subconsciously choose mates who resemble us and conform to certain physical criteria.

    Ask any 15-year-old boy and he’ll give you a laundry list of traits his dream girl would possess. But chances are, that kid will grow up and fall in love with someone who doesn’t perfectly meet his criteria. So, what actually enamours our teen? And why do any of us fall in love?

    It turns out we’re subconsciously attracted to people who resemble us and have similar facial features. For instance, if our noses have a similar breadth and there’s a comparable amount of distance between our eyes.

    Furthermore, we’re drawn to people who share our educational, economic and ethnic background. Consider the fact that a 1950s study found that more than half of the couples who applied for marriage in Columbus, Ohio lived no more than 16 blocks apart when they started to date. And what’s more, 37 percent of the couples lived within five blocks of each other!

    So, generally speaking, we’re more likely to fall in love with people who share our attitudes, expectations and interests. However, we also gravitate toward people who have certain generic physical features.

    For instance, it won’t surprise you that on average, heterosexual women prefer tall men with symmetrical facial features who are slightly older and stronger than the women themselves. But did you know that researchers have also established that women are more sexually attracted to men with large pupils?

    And what do heterosexual men prefer in women? According to a massive study conducted across the globe, men unequivocally prefer women with a hip-to-waist ratio of roughly 0.7.

    Although hip-to-waist ratio is overwhelmingly the most important factor, men also prefer full lips, clear skin and lustrous hair.

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    What is The Social Animal about?

    The Social Animal (2011) reviews a trove of scientific evidence explaining what actually determines human behavior. Our iceberg-like unconscious mind helps us navigate the world with split-second judgment, while certain inborn traits drive us to be successful in life. You’re both a lot – and a lot less – smarter than you think!

    Best quote from The Social Animal

    Emotion assigns value to things and reason can only make choices on the basis of those valuations.

    —David Brooks
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    Who should read The Social Animal?

    • Students of human behavior who want to know what makes us tick
    • Skeptics curious about whether people really are rational beings
    • Anyone who’s interested in understanding what determines our success in life

    About the Author

    David Brooks is an American journalist and political commentator best known as a New York Times op-ed columnist. He has also contributed to the New Yorker, Forbes, The Times Literary Supplement and many other esteemed publications.

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