18 January 2011

We are social animals

David Brooks writes in the New Yorker:
People who were securely attached as infants tend to have more friends at school and at summer camp. They tend to be more truthful through life, feeling less need to puff themselves up in others’ eyes. According to work by Pascal Vrticka, of the University of Geneva, people with what scientists call “avoidant attachment patterns” show less activation in the reward areas of the brain during social interaction. Men who had unhappy childhoods are three times as likely to be solitary at age seventy.

[snip]

“I guess I used to think of myself as a lone agent, who made certain choices and established certain alliances with colleagues and friends,” he said. “Now, though, I see things differently. I believe we inherit a great river of knowledge, a flow of patterns coming from many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past we call genetics. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago we call family, and the information offered months ago we call education. But it is all information that flows through us. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and exists only as a creature in that river. Our thoughts are profoundly molded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self-made, in isolation from it.
Read the whole thing.

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