Why connecting is good for our brains but social rejection is not …

Perhaps its the impact of three social holidays in a row, Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. Especially Chinese New Year when we spend 14 days visiting each other and texting greetings to one another.


In Singapore, we even have a dish that requires us to engage socially, the lo-hei, a raw dish salad dish that we toss and wish each other blessings. Networking is the oil which culture is passed. This dish, is now commonly practiced across the Chinese diaspora from the Chinese immigrants that passed through Singapore-Malaysia.

I am digging up a book by Michael Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Social anthropologists such as Dunbar have long hypothesized that a species’ brain size or its neocortex is a function of its social group. Most animals have brains in proportion to their body size – species with larger bodies often have larger brains. But humans have bigger brains, six times larger than that expected for our body size.

This has puzzled researchers, as the brain is draining resource – burning 20% of the body’s energy while accounting for only 4% of its mass.

As evolution tends to eliminate waste, how did humans evolve large, energy-consuming brains?

A dominant hypothesis suggests that challenging social interactions were the driving force. Ecological problems only lead to human-sized brains when individuals can keep learning hard skills as they grow. When individuals learn from allies their culturally accumulated knowledge, such as making fire. Mauricio González-Forero and those of others suggest that a hard ecology and the accumulation/ transmission of cultural knowledge socially could act in concert to produce a human sized brain.

Why do we need to network?

Whether you believe in evolution or are a creationist, research seems to point that human survival is wired for it.

There is a price tag on relationships. Studies on the brain’s reward center, which turns on when people feel pleasure, was more active when people gave $10 to charity than when they received $10.  Emily Esfahani Smith

If social connections are important, useful even, why are we reluctant to socialise?

When we talk about socialising or networking, the negative usually comes out, “Its who you know that counts”. “She got that position because of social climbing”.

Yet why don’t we do more of it, if we know that networking is helpful to our career?

Or that connecting with diverse group will improve quality of ideas and creativity?

Have a friend at work? And why it matters.

9 relationships we need in our network

Myths of Networking

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