WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The Social Instinct by Nichola Raihani

I absolutely loved this book, and I couldn’t put it down! I love the author’s writing style and the content was truly fascinating. I read it on holidays and kept interrupting my partner’s relaxation time to share some new interesting information I discovered within the book!

The book explains how cooperation is the secret of human success and is especially crucial today. This isn’t a book about cooperation in the bland corporate sense, but is more about how cooperation is part of our everyday activities. After reading this book, you’ll never think about cooperation the same way again, and you’ll start seeing examples of it everywhere!

Raihani provides all sorts of fascinating examples of cooperation – from the cellular level, to within families, and beyond to large scale societies. She explains how cooperation can be used for good and also for evil, both biologically (e.g. cancer cells) and socially (e.g. nepotism and bribery).

Her examples of cooperation in the animal world include ants, pied babbler birds, mole-rats, apostle birds, cleaner fish and meerkats! She also shares many (sometimes hilarious) experiences from her research work studying various animals around the world.

She also provides human examples including group projects involving hard workers and free-riders, the typical dirty office kitchen scenario, experiments exploring the impact of punishment on cooperation, in and out groups in politics and other contexts, how coalitions can impact on our perceptions and beliefs, and the relationship between power and social equity.

This book is a delight and everyone should read it to develop a nuanced understanding of cooperation in its many forms.

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