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 (117 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

"The Social Animal" by David Brooks explores human behavior and socialization through storytelling, neuroscience, and social science research. The book reveals the hidden influences that shape our lives and offers insights on how to live a fulfilling life.

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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!

    The Social Animal Review

    The Social Animal (2011) by David Brooks delves into the hidden forces that shape our behavior and decision-making, making it a captivating read. Here's why this book is definitely worth your time:

    • Bringing together insights from neuroscience, psychology, and sociology, it offers a multidisciplinary approach to understanding human behavior, providing valuable and eye-opening revelations.
    • Through vivid storytelling and real-life examples, the book illuminates the complex dynamics of human relationships, shedding light on the intricacies of our social interactions.
    • Brooks' exploration of the unconscious mind and its influence on our actions and choices keeps readers engrossed, ensuring that the book is anything but boring.

    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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    The Social Animal FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Social Animal?

    The main message of The Social Animal is about the power of our unconscious mind in shaping our lives.

    How long does it take to read The Social Animal?

    The estimated reading time for The Social Animal is several hours. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Social Animal a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Social Animal is worth reading as it provides insights into human behavior and the forces that drive our actions.

    Who is the author of The Social Animal?

    The author of The Social Animal is David Brooks.

    What to read after The Social Animal?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Social Animal, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman & Philip Fernbach
    • The Road to Character by David Brooks
    • You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney
    • How to Know a Person by David Brooks
    • The Second Mountain by David Brooks
    • The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
    • The Wealth Money Can't Buy by Robin Sharma
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • Determined by Robert M. Sapolsky
    • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell