My hope is that this revision of The Social Animal retains the compact grace of the original yet continues to remain up-to-date without giving short shrift to the fine. this is a recommendation for you >> The social animal by Elliot Aronson. What are the differences between editions of the Social Animal by Eliot Aronson? Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement PDF format?. The Social Animal caite.info - Download as PDF File .pdf) or view presentation slides online.
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you've twisted the drawing off to one side without being aware of it. At first you may find DRAW 50 ANIMALS Social Rules! - A Common Sense Guide to Social. The Social Animal Books by Elliot Aronson Theories of Cognitive Consistency ( with R. Abelson et al.), Voices of. ARONSON RDG_FM_ARONSON RDG caite.info 4/20/11 AM Page iiThis page was intentionally left blank ARONSON RDG_FM_ARO.
A piece of the answer lies in the pattern of synaptic connections. Men want to do the same sexual acts regardless of education levels, but female sexual preferences differ by education, culture, and status level. Before it was over, she was Dorothy Parker and the guy was a pool of metaphorical blood on the floor. Man is born free but is everywhere in chains. The networks of neural connections are the physical manifestation of your habits, personality, and predilections.
Julia went through cycles of hope and mistrust in just a few blinks of the eye. Her inner smart-ass was going wild. But then, fortunately, he walked up and said hello. The Meal As destiny would have it, Rob and Julia were meant for each other. One of the by-products of this pattern is that people tend to unwittingly pick partners who have lived near them for at least parts of their lives. A study in the s found that 54 percent of the couples who applied for marriage licenses in Columbus, Ohio, lived within sixteen blocks of each other when they started going out, and 37 percent lived within five blocks of each other.
In college, people are much more likely to go out with people who have dorm rooms on the same hallway or the same courtyard. Familiarity breeds trust. Rob and Julia quickly discovered they had a lot in common. They had the same Edward Hopper poster on their walls.
They had been at the same ski resort at the same time and had similar political views. They discovered they both loved Roman Holiday, had the same opinions about the characters in The Breakfast Club, and shared the same misimpression that it was a sign of sophistication to talk about how much you loved Eames chairs and the art of Mondrian.
Furthermore, they both affected discerning connoisseurship over extremely prosaic things such as hamburgers and iced tea. They both exaggerated their popularity while reminiscing about high school.
They had hung out at the same bars and had seen the same rock bands on the same tours. It was like laying down a series of puzzle pieces that astoundingly matched. People generally overestimate how distinct their own lives are, so the commonalities seemed to them like a series of miracles.
The coincidences gave their relationship an aura of destiny fulfilled. The server stopped by their table, and they ordered drinks and then lunch. It is an elemental fact of life that we get to choose what we will order, but we do not get to choose what we like.
Preferences are formed below the level of awareness, and it so happened that Rob loved cabernet but disliked merlot. Unfortunately, Julia ordered a glass of the former, so Rob had to select a glass of the latter, just to appear different. The food at their lunch was terrible, but the meal was wondrous. Rob had never actually been to this restaurant, but had selected it on the advice of their mutual friend, who was highly confident about his own judgments.
It turned out to be one of those restaurants with ungraspable salads. But Rob had selected a salad, which sounded good on the menu, composed of splaying green tentacles that could not be shoved into his mouth without brushing salad dressing three inches on either side of his cheeks.
Getting a biteful was like chipping off a geological stratum from Mount Rushmore. But none of it mattered, because Rob and Julia clicked. Over the main course, Julia described her personal history—her upbringing, her collegiate interests in communications, her work as a publicist and its frustrations, and her vision for the PR firm she would someday start, using viral marketing. Julia leaned in toward Rob as she explained her mission in life.
She took rapid-fire sips of water, chewing incredibly fast, like a chipmunk, so she could keep on talking.
Her energy was infectious. Gestures are an unconscious language that we use to express not only our feelings but to constitute them. By making a gesture, people help produce an internal state. Rob and Julia licked their lips, leaned forward in their chairs, glanced at each other out of the corners of their eyes, and performed all the other tricks of unconscious choreography that people do while flirting. Unawares, Julia did the head cant women do to signal arousal, a slight tilt of the head that exposed her neck.
But the waitress noticed the feverish warmth on their faces, and was pleased, since men on a first date are the biggest tippers of all. Only days later did the importance of the meal sink in. Decades hence, Julia would remember the smallest detail of this lunch, and not only the fact that her husband-to-be ate all the bread in the breadbasket. And through it all the conversation flowed. Words are the fuel of courtship. Other species win their mates through a series of escalating dances, but humans use conversation.
Geoffrey Miller notes that most adults have a vocabulary of about sixty thousand words. And yet the most frequent one hundred words account for 60 percent of all conversations. The most common four thousand words account for 98 percent of conversations. Why do humans bother knowing those extra fifty-six thousand words?
Miller believes that humans learn the words so they can more effectively impress and sort out potential mates.
He calculates that if a couple speaks for two hours a day, and utters on average three words a second, and has sex for three months before conceiving a child which would have been the norm on the prehistoric savanna , then a couple will have exchanged about a million words before conceiving a child.
So much of the conversation, for this first night and for several months thereafter, would be about getting Julia to let down her guard. Rob would have been unrecognizable to his buddies if they could see him now. He was talking knowledgably about his relationships. All trace of cynicism was gone. Courtship largely consists of sympathy displays, in which partners try to prove to each other how compassionate they can be, as anybody who has seen dating couples around children and dogs can well attest.
Of course, there are other, less noble calculations going on as people choose their mates. Like veteran stock-market traders, people respond in predictable, if unconscious, ways to the valuations of the social marketplace. They instinctively seek the greatest possible return on their own market value. The richer the man, the younger the woman he is likely to mate with. The more beautiful the woman, the richer the man. Men who are deficient in one status category can compensate if they are high in another.
Several studies of online dating have shown that short men can be as successful in the dating market if they earn more than taller men. Women resist dating outside their ethnic group much more than men do.
Along with everything else, Rob and Julia were doing these sorts of calculations unconsciously in their heads—weighing earnings-to-looks ratios, calculating social- capital balances. And every signal suggested they had found a match. The Stroll Human culture exists in large measure to restrain the natural desires of the species.
The tension of courtship is produced by the need to slow down when the instincts want to rush right in. Both Rob and Julia were experiencing powerful impulsion at this point, and were terrified of saying something too vehement and forward. People who succeed in courtship are able to pick up the melody and rhythm of a relationship. Through a mutual process of reading each other and restraining themselves, their relationship will or will not establish its own synchronicity, and it is through this process that they will establish the implicit rules that will forever after govern how they behave toward each other.
Julia silently regretted bringing her day bag, which was roughly the size of a minivan, and big enough to hold books, phones, pagers, and possibly a moped. Rob finally touched her arm as they walked out the door, and she looked up at him with that trusting smile. Julia really felt comfortable with Rob.
For his part, Rob actually shivered as he escorted Julia back to her car. His heart was palpitating and his breathing was fast. Brazenly, he asked if he could see her tomorrow, and of course she said yes.
So he squeezed her arm and brushed his cheek against hers. Their cortisol levels dropped. Smell is a surprisingly powerful sense in these situations. People who lose their sense of smell suffer greater emotional deterioration than people who lose their vision. Research subjects, presumably well compensated, then sniffed the pads. They could somehow tell, at rates higher than chance, which pads had the smell of laughter and which pads had the smell of fear, and women were much better at this test than men.
According to famous research by Claus Wedekind at the University of Lausanne, women are attracted to men whose human leukocyte antigen code of their DNA are most different from their own. Complementary HLA coding is thought to produce better immune systems in their offspring. Aided by chemistry and carried along by feeling, Rob and Julia both sensed that this had been one of the most important interviews of their lives.
In fact, it would turn out to be the most important two hours that each of them would ever spend, for there is no decision more important to lifelong happiness than the decision about whom to marry. Over the course of that early afternoon, they had begun to make a decision.
The meal had been delightful. But they had also just been through a rigorous intellectual exam that made the SAT seem like kindergarten.
Each of them had spent the past minutes performing delicate social tasks. They had each made a thousand discriminating judgments. They had measured their emotional responses with discriminations so fine no gauge could quantify them. They had decoded silent gestures—a grin, a look, a shared joke, a pregnant pause. Every few minutes they had admitted each other one step closer toward the intimacy of their hearts.
These mental tasks only seemed easy because the entire history of life on this earth had prepared them for this moment. The mental work was mostly done unconsciously.
It seemed effortless. It just came naturally. But the choice to fall in love would just sort of well up inside of them. A desire for the other had formed. It would take each of them awhile to realize that a ferocious commitment to the other had already been made.
The heart, Blaise Pascal observed, has reasons the head knows not of. But this is how deciding works. This is how knowing what we want happens—not only when it comes to marriage but in many of the other important parts of life. Deciding whom to love is not a strange alien form of decision making, a romantic interlude in the midst of normal life. Instead, decisions about whom to love are more intense versions of the sorts of decisions we make throughout the course of life, from what food to order to what career to pursue.
Decision making is an inherently emotional business. One of the breakthroughs that helped us understand the interplay between emotion and decision making began with a man named Elliot, whose story has become one of the most famous in the world of brain research.
Elliot had suffered damage to the frontal lobes of his brain as the result of a tumor. Elliot was intelligent, well informed, and diplomatic. He possessed an attractively wry view of the world. But, after surgery, Elliot began to have trouble managing his day. He made foolish investments that cost him his life savings. He divorced his wife, married a woman his family disapproved of, and quickly divorced again. In short, he was incapable of making sensible choices.
Elliot went to see a scientist named Antonio Damasio, who evaluated him with a battery of tests. They showed that Elliot had a superior IQ. He had an excellent memory for numbers and geometric designs and was proficient at making estimates based upon incomplete information. But in the many hours of conversation Damasio had with Elliot, he noticed that the man never showed any emotion.
He could recount the tragedy that had befallen his life without the slightest tinge of sadness. Damasio showed Elliot gory and traumatic images from earthquakes, fires, accidents, and floods. Elliot understood how he was supposed to respond emotionally to these images. A series of further tests showed that Elliot understood how to imagine different options when making a decision.
He was able to understand conflicts between two moral imperatives. In short, he could prepare himself to make a choice between a complex range of possibilities. He was incapable of assigning value to different options. The man pulled out his datebook and began listing the pros and cons of each option.
For the better part of half an hour, he went on and on, listing possible conflicts, potential weather conditions on the two days in question, the proximity of other appointments. But he and his fellow researchers just stood there watching. Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. They lead foolish lives.
Parts of the theory are disputed—scientists differ about how much the brain and the body interact— but his key point is that emotions measure the value of something, and help unconsciously guide us as we navigate through life—away from things that are likely to lead to pain and toward things that are likely to lead to fulfillment. They assist the deliberation by highlighting some options either dangerous or favorable , and eliminating them rapidly from subsequent consideration.
You may think of it as a system for automated qualification of prediction, which acts, whether you want it or not, to evaluate the extremely diverse scenarios of the anticipated future before you. Think of it as a biasing device. And yet amidst all this pyrotechnic chaos, different parts of the brain and body interact to form an Emotional Positioning System.
Like the Global Positioning System that might be in your car, the EPS senses your current situation and compares it to the vast body of data it has stored in its memory.
Instantly, the mind is searching the memory banks for similar events. Maybe there was a date in high school long ago. The mind is sorting and coding. The body is responding. The heart speeds. Adrenaline rises. A smile opens up. Signals are flowing from body and brain and back again in quick intricate loops.
The physical and the mental are connected in complex networks of reaction and counter-reactions, and out of their feedback an emotional value emerges.
Already the touch of the hand has been coated with meaning—something good, something delicious. An instant later, a different set of loops open. This is the higher set of feedback routes between the evolutionarily older parts of the brain and the newer, more modern parts such as the prefrontal cortex.
This set of information flow is slower, but more refined. The touch of the hand has been felt and refelt, sorted and resorted. The body has reacted, plans have been hatched, reactions prepared, and all this complex activity has happened under the surface of awareness and in the blink of an eye.
And this process happens not only on a date, with the touch of a hand. It happens at the supermarket when you scan an array of cereal boxes. It happens at the jobs fair when you look over different career options. The Emotional Positioning System is coating each possibility with emotional value. Eventually, at the end of these complex feedbacks, a desire bursts into consciousness— a desire to choose that cereal or seek that job, or to squeeze the hand, to touch this person, to be with this person forever.
The emotion emerges from the deep. It may not be a brilliant impulse; emotion sometimes leads us astray and sometimes leads us wisely. It can be overridden, but it propels and guides. Reason and emotion are not separate and opposed.
Reason is nestled upon emotion and dependent upon it. Emotion assigns value to things, and reason can only make choices on the basis of those valuations. The human mind can be pragmatic because deep down it is romantic. Further, the mind or the self is no one thing. The mind is a blindingly complicated series of parallel processes. There is no captain sitting in a cockpit making decisions. There is no Cartesian theater—a spot where all the different processes and possibilities come together to get ranked and where actions get planned.
Instead, as Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman put it, the brain looks like an ecosystem, a fantastically complex associative network of firings, patterns, reactions, and sensations all communicating with and responding to different parts of the brain and all competing for a piece of control over the organism. Finally, we are primarily wanderers, not decision makers. Over the past century, people have tended to conceive decision making as a point in time.
You amass the facts and circumstances and evidence and then make a call. In fact, it is more accurate to say that we are pilgrims in a social landscape. We wander across an environment of people and possibilities. The key to a well-lived life is to have trained the emotions to send the right signals and to be sensitive to their subtle calls.
Rob and Julia were not the best-educated people on earth, nor the most profound. But they knew how to love. As they sat at the restaurant, focusing more and more attention on each other, their emotions were sending a rapid stream of guidance signals and shaping whole series of small decisions, and thereby gradually reorienting their lives. They felt themselves swept along in some strong and delightful current that was carrying them toward someplace they deliriously wanted to go.
This was a powerful, holistic appraisal that followed an entirely different set of rules. Julia would fall in love and then invent reasons for her attraction later.
That day she and Rob began wandering together down a path that would be the most rewarding of their lives. Each of them had come into the marriage with a certain unconscious mental map of how day-to-day life worked. Now that their lives were permanently joined, they were discovering that their maps did not entirely cohere. It was not the big differences they noticed, but the little patterns of existence that they had never even thought of. Julia assumed that dishes should be rinsed and put in the dishwasher as they are soiled.
Rob assumed that dishes should be left in the sink for the day and then cleaned all at once in the evening. Julia assumed that toilet paper should roll clockwise so the loose sheets furl out the front. For Rob, reading the morning paper was a solitary activity done in silence by two people who happened to be sitting together. For Julia, the morning paper was a social activity and an occasion for conversation and observations about the state of the world.
When Rob went to the grocery store, he bought distinct meal products—a package of tortellini, a frozen pizza, a quiche. These contrasts did not really bother them, for they were in that early stage of marriage when couples still have time to go running together and have sex afterward. In this mode, they slowly and sensitively negotiated the bargain of their new interdependence.
Julia was game for any naked erotic activity he could fantasize about, so long as she was permitted to wear socks while performing it. Julia, meanwhile, had never seen anybody so much in the habit of buying toothpaste during every trip to the drugstore. Rob bought a tube a week, as if Martians were about to invade us for our Crest. She was also tickled by his pattern of attention.
He was incapable of focus. Gradually they entered the second stage of map melding, the stage of precampaign planning.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. But they were sensitive enough not to be Maoist about it. Especially in the first few months, Julia watched Rob the way Jane Goodall watched chimpanzees, with rapt attention and with a sense of constant surprise about the behavior patterns he exhibited. The man had absolutely no interest in artisanal cheeses or any subtle flavors, yet get him within yards of a Brookstone store in the mall, and suddenly he became rapt at the thought of indoor putting greens with automatic ball return.
He considered himself a neat man, but neatness for him consisted of taking everything that had been cluttering the countertops and shoving them willy-nilly in the nearest available drawers. He never laid out the pieces he would need in preparation for some assembly project. His simply dove right into the project and spent hours in the middle of it trying to figure out where everything was.
He was apparently smarter than every football coach he had ever watched, but lacked the foresight to see that leaving your shoes in the path that leads from the bed to the bathroom might create problems in the middle of the night.
Then there was the night of the movie ticket. One night, Rob was walking home from work and he walked past a theater that had seats available for a film he had wanted to see. He called in a happy, haphazard mood, and was utterly stunned when he sensed that the temperature on the other end of the call had dropped two hundred degrees. It soon became clear that, in fact, he would not be going to the movies that night. It became clear that these sorts of spontaneous larks would no longer be a regular feature of his life and that marriage was not simply an extended phase of boyhood, but with serving dishes and regular sex.
Rob was made to understand, in phrases—interrupted by long glacial pauses—of the sort one uses when trying to explain something to a particularly stupid preschooler … that life from now on was going to involve a different level of commitment and joint planning and that a certain sort of carefree, what-do-I-want-for- myself-at-this-moment thinking would have to go.
Both issued their own domestic Monroe Doctrines, parts of their lives that they considered sacred, and where external meddling would be regarded as an act of war. Both were pleased by the loving acts of compromise each made on behalf of the other. Rob admired his own selfless nobility every time he remembered to put the toilet seat down. Julia silently compared herself to Mother Teresa every time she pretended to enjoy action movies.
And so commenced the division of marital labor. Both gravitated to areas of superior passion. For example, Rob somehow took control of all vacation planning, because he secretly considered himself the Robert E.
Lee of the travel excursion, the brilliant tactician who could rise to any canceled flight, airport snafu, or hotel screwup. This meant Julia had to endure his Bataan Death March vacation schedule—six vineyards before lunch. But to her that was better than sitting down with a travel agent and going through hotel reservations. Julia, meanwhile, took over all aspects of the material surroundings. If Rob was unwilling to engage in discerning commentary during their trips to funky yet casual furniture stores, he could hardly expect to render the final judgments when the purchase decisions had to be made.
Marital satisfaction generally follows a U-shaped curve. Couples are deliriously happy during the first years of marriage. Their self-reported satisfaction declines and bottoms out when their children hit adolescence, then it climbs again as they enter retirement. Newly wed, Rob and Julia were indeed phenomenally happy and quite well suited for each other. And on most days they had sex. Procreation One day, about six months after their wedding, Julia and Rob woke up late and had brunch at a neighborhood place with country furniture and distressed wooden tables.
Then they went shopping and grabbed sandwiches, which they ate on a bench in the park. They were alive to sensations of all sorts: Her conscious thoughts were on the story she was telling him, but unconsciously she was becoming aroused. Rob was listening to her tale, but without even thinking about it, he was looking at a soft small crease in the skin of her neck.
In the back of his mind he was ready to have sex right then and there, if a conveniently sized bush could be found. That particular day in the park, Rob wanted Julia with all his body and all his soul. Rob had all sorts of internal barriers that made it hard for him to express his emotions. But during sex, his internal communication barriers dissolved. In the throes of passion, he went into a mental fog. He was no longer aware of his surroundings, or how he might be perceived.
His emotions for Julia surfaced with their full force. He could feel his own emotions directly and express them unselfconsciously. But when they were both in the throes of passion together, Rob experienced the bliss of unencumbered communication that was the real object of his longing. It was like a river with many tributaries.
Julia enjoyed looking at male bodies, female bodies, or anything in between. Like most women, she got lubricated even while looking at nature shows of animals copulating, even though consciously the thought of being aroused by animals was repellant. Men want to do the same sexual acts regardless of education levels, but female sexual preferences differ by education, culture, and status level. Highly educated women are much more likely to perform oral sex, engage in same-sex activity, and experiment with a variety of other activities than less-educated women.
Religious women are less adventurous than nonreligious women, though the desires of religious men are not much different than those of secular ones. They say that foreplay for a woman is anything that happens twenty-four hours before intercourse. That evening, they watched a movie, had a drink, and before long they were playfully, then passionately, making love, heading toward the usual climax.
An orgasm is not a reflex. It starts with a cascade of ever more intense physical and mental feedback loops. Touches and sensations release chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin, which in turn generate even more sensory input, culminating in a complex and explosive light show in the brain. Some women can achieve orgasms just by thinking the right thoughts. Some women with spinal cord injuries can achieve orgasm through the stimulation of their ears. Others can achieve orgasms through stimulation of the genitals that, because of a paralyzing accident, they are supposedly unable to feel.
A woman in Taiwan could experience temporal-lobe seizures and shattering orgasms merely by brushing her teeth. A man studied by V. Ramachandran at UC San Diego felt orgasms in his phantom foot. His foot had been amputated, and the brain region corresponding to the foot had nothing to do. As they made love, Rob and Julia sent rhythmic vibrations through their minds and bodies. Julia had the mental traits that are associated with ease of orgasms—a willingness to surrender mental control, the ability to be hypnotized, the inability to control thoughts during sex—and she felt herself once again heading in the right direction.
A few minutes later, their frontal cortexes partially shut down, while their senses of touch became ever more acute. Sight became a series of abstract patches of color. The result was a pair of satisfying climaxes, and eventually, through the magic of the birds and the bees, a son. Responsible and ambitious by day, she would let her inner Cosmo girl out for a romp on Saturday nights.
In these moods, she still thought it was cool to be sassy. She still thought it was a sign of social bravery to be a crude-talking, hard-partying, cotton candy lipstick-wearing, thong-snapping, balls-to-the-wall disciple in the church of Lady GaGa. She still thought she was taking control of her sexuality by showing cleavage.
She thought the barbed wire tat around her thigh was a sign of body confidence. She was excellent entertainment at parties, always first in line for drinking games and bicurious female kissing.
Ensconced in late-night throngs of group inebriation, she would walk perilously close to the line of skankdom without ever quite going over. Up until well into her pregnancy, it is fair to say that a truly maternal thought never crossed her mind. Harold, who was just forming in her womb at this point, was going to have to work if he was going to turn her into the sort of mother he deserved.
He began that work early and hard. As a fetus, Harold grew , brain cells every minute, and he had well over 20 billion of them by the time he was born. Soon his taste buds began to work, and he could tell when the amniotic fluid surrounding him turned sweet or garlicky, depending upon what his mother had for lunch. Fetuses swallow more of the fluid when sweetener is added. By seventeen weeks he was feeling his way around the womb. He began touching his umbilical cord and pressing his fingers together.
By then he was also developing greater sensitivity to the world beyond. A fetus will withdraw from pain at five months. By the third trimester, Harold was dreaming, or at least making the same sorts of eye movements that adults make when they dream. It was at this point that the real work of Operation Motherhood could begin. Anthony J. DeCasper and others at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro had some mothers read The Cat in the Hat to their fetuses over a period of weeks.
Harold spent his nine months in the womb, growing and developing, and then one fine day, he was born. Now he could get to work on his mother in earnest, eliminating Julia, the party girl, and creating Supermom Julia.
First, he would have to build a set of bonds between them that would supersede all others. In Andrew Meltzoff ushered in a new era of infant psychology when he stuck his tongue out at a forty-two-minute-old infant.
The baby stuck her tongue out back at him. It was as if the baby, who had never seen a tongue in her life, intuited that the strange collection of shapes in front of her was a face, that the little thing in the middle of it was a tongue, that there was a creature behind the face, that the tongue was something other than herself, and that she herself had a corresponding little flap that she too could move around.
The experiment has been replicated with babies at different ages, and since then researchers have gone off in search of other infant abilities. People once believed that babies were blank slates. But the more investigators look, the more impressed they have become with how much babies know at birth, and how much they learn in the first few months after.
The truth is, starting even before we are born, we inherit a great river of knowledge, a great flow of patterns coming from many ages and many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past, we call genetics. The information revealed thousands of years ago, we call religion. 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 years, months, days, or hours ago, we call education and advice.
But it is all information, and it all flows from the dead through us and to the unborn. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and its many currents and tributaries, and it exists as a creature of that river the way a trout exists in a stream.
Our thoughts are profoundly molded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self-made, in isolation from it. So even a newborn possesses this rich legacy, and is built to absorb more, and to contribute back to this long current.
Though he still had no awareness of himself as a separate person, little Harold had a repertoire of skills to get Julia to fall in love with him. The first was his appearance. These features arouse deep responses in all humans, whether they are on babies or Mickey Mouse or E.
He also had the ability to gaze. Harold would lie next to Julia and stare at her face. He could tell the difference between a happy face and sad face. He became extremely good at reading faces, at noting tiny differences in muscular movements around the eyes and mouth.
For example, six-month-old babies can spot the different facial features of different monkeys, even though, to adults, they all look the same. Then there was touch. Harold felt a primeval longing to touch his mother as much and as often as possible. This kind of contact was also a life-altering deliciousness for Julia. Human skin has two types of receptors. One type transmits information to the somatosensory cortex for the identification and manipulation of objects.
But the other type activates the social parts of the brain.
Julia would find herself suffused with a deep sense of fulfillment that she had never imagined before. This is so much more satisfying. Then, and maybe most powerfully, there was smell. Harold just smelled wonderful. Finally, there was rhythm. Harold began imitating Julia. Just a few months old, Harold would open his mouth when Julia opened hers. Soon, he could copy hand gestures. Julia found herself playing along, staring into his eyes, getting him to open his mouth, getting him to shake his head.
Not long ago, a psychology class took advantage of the human capacity for this sort of protoconversation to play a trick on their professor. The class decided beforehand that they would look at him attentively when he lectured from the left side of the room but look away or appear distracted when he wandered over to the right side. As the class went on, the professor unconsciously stood more and more on the left side of the room. By the end, he was practically out the door.
He had no idea what his students were doing, but he just felt better from that side of his room. His behavior was pulled by this invisible social gravity. Harold kept up Operation Motherhood with steady and relentless persistence, week after week, month after month, breaking down her barriers, rewiring her personality, insinuating himself in her every thought and feeling, gradually transforming her very identity.
You have to give her credit for that. For most of the first year, Julia would breast-feed Harold from a chair in the corner of his room. At her baby shower, her friends, very few of whom had babies themselves, gave her the sorts of things they considered essential for successful nurturing. She had the audio and video baby monitors, the air purifier, the Baby Einstein mobiles, the de- humidifier, the electronic photo displays, the visually stimulating floor-mat, the rattles for manual dexterity, and the aurally soothing ocean-currents noise machine.
She would sit there amidst all the gizmos, breast-feeding him, looking like a milkmaid Captain Kirk in the chair of the starship Enterprise. The nightlight glowed softly and everything was quiet all around. It looked superficially like an idyllic maternal scene—a mother suckling her child, all filled with love and sweet affections. Help me! Will somebody please help me? He was half Cupid, half storm trooper. The greedy asshole wanted everything. Harold controlled the hours of her sleep, the span of her attention, the time she could shower, rest, or go to the bathroom.
He controlled what she thought, how she looked, whether she cried. Julia was miserable and overwhelmed. The average baby demands adult attention of one kind or another every twenty seconds. New mothers lose an average of seven hundred hours of sleep during that first year. Marital satisfaction plummets 70 percent, while the risk of maternal depression more than doubles. At the merest hint of discomfort Harold could let out a piercing scream that could leave Julia weeping in hysterics and Rob angry and miserable.
Exhausted, Julia would sit there in the chair, breast-feeding her little boy while thinking of the fat vessel she had become. Her thoughts raced through dark forests. She realized she would never again look as good in tight skirts. The mothers would all want forgiveness, and the fathers would all want applause. She could say farewell to the partygoing life that gave her such pleasure. Then Harold would lie on her chest, grab her pinkie with his little hand, and start suckling again.
Little tears of joy and gratitude would well up in her eyes. Kenneth Kaye has suggested that human infants are the only mammalian infants who nurse in bursts, sucking for a few seconds then pausing while the nipple is still in the mouth, and then resuming for another round. This pause, Kaye theorizes, induces the mother to jiggle her baby. When the baby is two days old, mothers jiggle for about three seconds.
When the baby is a few weeks old, the jiggle is down to two. These movements sent Julia and Harold into a sort of ballet with its own rhythm. Harold paused, Julia jiggled; Harold paused, Julia jiggled. It was a conversation. As Harold aged, this rhythm would continue.
Their world was structured by dialogue. Julia, no natural vocalist, found herself singing to him at the oddest moments—mostly, for some reason, songs from West Side Story. She read The Wall Street Journal to him in the morning and amused herself by reading every story that had to do with the Federal Reserve Board in motherese, the slow, exaggerated, singsong intonation that mothers in all cultures across the world use when speaking to their young.
Sometimes, as the months went by, she would begin impersonator training. She would mold her face into some expression and then get Harold to mimic until he looked like some celebrity. By scowling she could get him to look like Mussolini.
By growling, Churchill. By opening her mouth and looking scared, Jerry Lewis. Sometimes when he smiled it was actually disconcerting. Harold was so desperate to bond that, if the tempo of their conversation was interrupted, his whole world could fall to pieces.
They ask a mother to interrupt her interactions with her child and adopt a blank, passive expression. Babies find this extremely disconcerting. They tense, cry, and fuss. Except when Julia was completely exhausted, their conversations went on like a symphony. His brain was built by her brain. By the ninth month, Harold still had no sense of self-awareness. He was still limited in so many ways. But he had done what he needed to do to survive and flourish.
He had intertwined his mind with the mind of another. Out of this relationship his own faculties would grow. You add nourishment to the seed, and an individual plant grows up.
Mammal brains grow properly only when they are able to interpenetrate with another. Rats who are separated from their mothers for twenty-four hours lose twice as many brain cells in the cerebral and cerebellar cortices than rats who are not separated. Rats raised in interesting environments have 25 percent more synapses than those raised in ordinary cages. Though some mysterious emotional outpourings produce physical changes.
Back in the s, H. Skeels studied mentally disabled orphans who were living in an institution but were subsequently adopted. After four years, their IQs diverged an amazing fifty points from those of the orphans who were not adopted.
And the remarkable thing is that the kids who were adopted were not improved by tutoring and lecturing. The mothers who adopted them were also mentally disabled and living in a different institution. This was good because Julia was coming apart at the seams.
She once considered herself relatively tidy, but now her house looked like a corner of Rome after a visit from the barbarian hordes. Franklin Roosevelt was able to launch the New Deal in the amount of time that had passed since her last witty observation.
But in the mornings Harold let out a big smile and he got to live another day. One morning, it dawned on Julia that she knew Harold better than any other person on earth. She knew the ways in which he needed her. She knew his difficulty in making transitions from one setting to another. She sensed, sadly, that he seemed to long for some sort of connection from her that she would never be able to offer.
Yet they had never actually exchanged a word of conversation. They got to know each other largely through touch, tears, looks, smell, and laughter. Julia had always assumed that meanings and concepts came through language, but now she realized that it was possible to have a complex human relationship without words. Mirror Neurons Philosophers have long argued about the process people use to understand one another. Some believe that we are careful theorizers. We come up with hypotheses about how other people will behave, and then test those hypotheses against the evidence we observe minute by minute.
In this theory, people come across as rational scientists, constantly weighing evidence and testing explanations. They are unconscious Method actors who understand by sharing or at least simulating the responses they see in the people around them.
Human beings understand others in themselves, and they form themselves by reenacting the internal processes they pick up from others. In researchers at the University of Parma in Italy were studying the brains of macaque monkeys, when they noticed a strange phenomenon. The monkey was automatically simulating the mental processes it observed in another. So was born the theory of mirror neurons, the idea that we have in our heads neurons that automatically re-create the mental patterns of those around us.
Over the last few years mirror neurons have become one of the most hyped and debated issues in all of neuroscience. Some scientists believe mirror neurons are akin to DNA, and will revolutionize our understanding of how people internally process outer experiences, how we learn from and communicate with others.
Others think the whole idea is vastly overblown. But there does seem to be a widely held view that monkey and human brains have an automatic ability to perform deep imitation, and in this way share mental processes across the invisible space between them. As Marco Iacoboni has observed, people are able to feel what others experience as if it were happening to them. The monkeys in Parma not only mimicked the actions they observed, they seemed to unconsciously evaluate the intentions behind them.
Their neurons fired intensely when a glass was picked up in a context that suggested drinking, but they did not fire the same way when an empty glass was picked up in a context that suggested cleaning up.
Their neurons fired in a certain characteristic pattern when they saw a scientist tearing a piece of paper, but they also fired in that same pattern when they merely heard a scientist tearing paper. The way the brains reacted to an action was inextricably linked to the goal implied by the action. We sometimes assume that the mental process of perceiving an action is distinct from the mental process of evaluating an action. But in these examples, the processes of perception and evaluation are all intermingled.
Since those original experiments in Italy, many scientists, including Iacoboni, believe they have found mirror neurons in humans. Human mirror neurons help people interpret the intention of an action, although unlike monkey mirror neurons, they seem to be able to imitate an action even when no goal is detected. Her brain will respond one way when it watches another human in the act of speaking, but a different way when it watches a monkey in the act of chattering.
When people watch a chase scene in a movie, they respond as if they were actually being chased, except at lower intensity. When they look at pornography, their brains respond as if they were actually having sex, except at lower intensity.
When Harold watched Julia look down lovingly at him, he presumably reenacted the activity in her brain, and learned how love feels and works from the inside. Harold would grow up to be a promiscuous imitator, and this helped him in all sorts of ways. Carol Eckerman, a psychology professor at Duke, has conducted research suggesting that the more a child plays imitation games, the more likely it is that the child will become an early fluent speaker.
However the science on mirror neurons eventually shakes out, the theory gives us a vehicle to explain a phenomenon we see every day, and never as much as in the relationship between parents and child. Minds are intensely permeable. Loops exist between brains. The same thought and feeling can arise in different minds, with invisible networks filling the space between them. Harold exploded in peals of laughter.
Rob dropped it again. His eyes crinkled. His body quaked. A little bump of tissue rose between his eyebrows, and the sound of rapturous laughter filled the room.
Rob held the ball above the table, and they all sat there frozen in anticipation. Then he let it bounce a few times, and Harold exploded with glee, even louder than before. He sat there in his pajamas, his tiny hands oddly still, transported by laughter. Rob and Julia had tears coming out of their eyes, they were laughing so hard along with him. Rob kept doing it over and over.
Rob and Julia matched him squeal for squeal, their voices blending and modulating with his. These were the best moments of their days—the little games of peekaboo, the wrestling and tickling on the floor. Sometimes Julia would hold a little washcloth in her mouth over the changing table, and Harold would grab it and hilariously try to cram it back in. It was the repetition of predictable surprise that sent Harold into ecstasy.
The games gave him a sense of mastery—that he was beginning to understand the patterns of the world. They gave him that sensation—which is something like pure joy for babies —of feeling in perfect synchronicity with Mom and Dad. Laughter exists for a reason, and it probably existed before humans developed language.
Robert Provine of the University of Maryland has found that people are thirty times more likely to laugh when they are with other people than when they are alone. When people are in bonding situations, laughter flows. Surprisingly, people who are speaking are 46 percent more likely to laugh during conversation than people who are listening. Only 15 percent of the sentences that trigger laughter are funny in any discernable way.
Instead, laughter seems to bubble up spontaneously amidst conversation when people feel themselves responding in parallel ways to the same emotionally positive circumstances.
Some jokes, like puns, are asocial and are often relished by those suffering from autism. But most jokes are intensely social and bubble up when people find a solution to some social incongruity. Laughter is a language that people use to bond, to cover over social awkwardness or to reinforce bonding that has already occurred.
This can be good, as when a crowd laughs together, or bad, as when a crowd ridicules a victim, but laughter and solidarity go together.
Sometimes they failed. Sometimes they succeeded. And when they did, laughter was the reward. If you had to step back and ask where Harold came from, you could give a biological answer, and explain conception and pregnancy and birth. But if you really wanted to explain where the essence of Harold—or the essence of any person—came from, you would have to say that first there was a relationship between Harold and his parents.
And that relationship had certain qualities. And then, as Harold matured and developed self-consciousness, those qualities became individualized, and came to exist in him even when he was apart from his parents. People are born into relationships—with parents, with ancestors— and those relationships create people.
Or, to put it a different way, a brain is something that is contained within a single skull. A mind only exists within a network. It is the result of the interaction between brains, and it is important not to confuse brains with minds. At first, he was more of a stripes man—stripes and black-and-white checkered squares. After that he developed a thing for edges—edges of boxes, edges of shelves. He would stare at edges the way Charles Manson stared at cops.
Then, as the months went by, it was boxes, wheels, rattles, and sippy cups. He became a great leveler—consumed by the conviction that all matter should rest at its lowest possible altitude. Plates came off tables and onto the floor. Books came off shelves and onto the floor.
Half-used boxes of spaghettini were liberated from their pantry prison and returned to their natural habitat across the kitchen floor. The delightful thing about Harold at this stage was that he was both a psychology major and a physics major. His two main vocations were figuring out how to learn from his mother and figuring out how stuff falls.
The executive-function areas in the front of the brain are slow to mature, so Harold did little controlled, self-directed thinking. That meant he had no inner narrator that he thought of as himself. But Harold lacked that amount of self- awareness. To him the sticker was on the forehead of some creature in the mirror. He was very good at recognizing others, but he could not recognize himself. They assume that the mind goes blank when there is no outside thing bidding for its attention. We direct attention at specific locations.
It was like being exuberantly lost in a degree movie. A million things caught his attention in random bombardments. Here was an interesting shape! There was another! There was a light! There was a person! By Elliot Aronson , Elliot Aronson. Go to the editions section to read or download ebooks. The social animal Elliot Aronson, Elliot Aronson. The social animal Close. Want to Read. Are you sure you want to remove The social animal from your list? There's no description for this book yet.
Can you add one? The social animal , Worth Publishers. The social animal , W. Freeman and Co. The social animal. Readers waiting for this title: History Created December 9, 10 revisions Download catalog record: The social animal , Worth Publishers in English - 10th ed. Libraries near you: WorldCat Library. The social animal , Worth Publishers in English - 9th ed. The social animal , Worth Publishers in English - 8th ed. Freeman in English - 7th ed.