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The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter Hardcover – August 26, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The benefits of the digital age have been oversold. Or to put it another way: there is plenty of life left in face-to-face, human interaction. That is the message emerging from this entertaining book by Susan Pinker, a Canadian psychologist. Citing a wealth of research and reinforced with her own arguments, Pinker suggests we should make an effort—at work and in our private lives—to promote greater levels of personal intimacy.”Financial Times
 
“Drawing on scores of psychological and sociological studies, [Pinker] suggests that living as our ancestors did, steeped in face-to-face contact and physical proximity, is the key to health, while loneliness is ‘less an exalted existential state than a public health risk.’ That her point is fairly obvious doesn’t diminish its importance; smart readers will take the book out to a park to enjoy in the company of others.”The Boston Globe
 
“A hopeful, warm guide to living more intimately in an disconnected era . . . Pinker explores the powerful effects of face-to-face contact in our increasingly computer-mediated world. While the benefits of human contact may seem like common sense, Pinker’s witty and informative book reveals a far more complex picture of these interactions. It may not surprise readers that having a web of friends and acquaintances makes both job-hunting and surviving the death of a spouse more palatable. But the biological effects that come from the community, and daily interactions with friends, partners, and parents are much less familiar.”Publishers Weekly

“A terrific book . . . Susan Pinker makes a hardheaded case for a softhearted virtue. Read this book. Then talk about it—in person!—with a friend.”—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
 
“What do Sardinian men, Trader Joe’s employees, and nuns have in common? Real social networks—though not the kind you’ll find on Facebook or Twitter. Susan Pinker’s delightful book shows why face-to-face interaction at home, school, and work makes us healthier, smarter, and more successful.”—Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
 
“Provocative and engaging . . . Pinker is a great storyteller and a thoughtful scholar. This is an important book, one that will shape how we think about the increasingly virtual world we all live in.”—Paul Bloom, author of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil
 
“A fascinating, nuanced study of that most fundamental need: the need for human connection.”—Maria Konnikova, New York Times bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
 
The Village Effect is a fascinating explanation of why we need regular contact with people, not just screens—and why time spent with your neighbors will enrich and extend your life in ways you never imagined.”—John Tierney, New York Times bestselling co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
 
“With a raft of surprising data, this compulsively readable, lively and meticulously researched book shows that direct and frequent human contact is at least as important to our survival as clean air or good nutrition.”—Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Freedom Feminism: Its Surprising History and Why It Matters Today
 
“For those who look forward to life with cool robots, think again. Pinker shows us that crucial personal interactions are essential to true human feelings. The Village Effect is brilliant and compelling.”—Michael Gazzaniga, professor of psychology, director of the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara

“Intimate, face-to-face contact with partners, family, and friends is an ancient and deep human need. How do group-living primates like us make the transition to an online world in the evolutionary blink of an eye? Can they? Pinker shows how this is happening. And—even more important—she shows us how this should happen with a valuable prescription based on the best science. Pinker writes with authority and verve, and she offers an integrated treatment of online and offline interactions. She sketches our modern digital interactions on the ancient parchment of our minds.”—Nicholas Christakis, author and psychologist, Human Nature Lab, Yale University
 
“Susan Pinker’s The Village Effect is a bold, intelligent foray into what social isolation does to each of us in an age of technology. She offers keen insights into how social engagement enhances romance, parenting, career, family and friendship. Most impressively, Susan Pinker explores how gender and invisible social forces play into our daily lives.”—Susan Shapiro Barash, author of The Nine Phases of Marriage and Toxic Friends

About the Author

Susan Pinker is a developmental psychologist, columnist, and broadcaster who writes about social science. Her first book, The Sexual Paradox, was published in seventeen countries and was awarded the William James Book Award by the American Psychological Association. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Times of London, The Economist, The Atlantic, Financial Times, and Der Spiegel and on the BBC, the CBC, and NBC’s Today show. She lives in Montreal.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (August 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069576
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Afia TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book is not a how-to on anything. Instead it is an enormous collection of studies that show the health value of contact and social bonds.

I love this book despite or even because of its lack of progression toward a set of directions that lead one to action.

This book brings about reflection as one turns pages. The evidence for us that human connection and bonds is good for health is so big that one cannot argue against the point. Instead one is enticed to reflect about their own experiences and what they want out of life for themselves and the ones they love.

I guess no review is complete without listing some (but not all) types of evidence referred to in the author's prose. Pages 271 - 332 are Notes to the preceding prose.

* Animal studies that clearly show the need for contact and a sense of belonging.
* Studies of spouses, male and female, regarding a variety of social situations.
* Studies of how females and males share food and eat socially.
* Studies of longevity.
* Coffee breaks.
* Scandals, con-artists, fraudsters, and cheaters.
* Internet activity.
* Dating.
* Hospitality.
* Ancient societies.

Reading this book led to many reflections that make me want to reach out to others more often and habitually. I recommend it if for no other reason than its potential to engage more people in this discourse.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A lot of research has been done regarding the benefits of social contact. The brain is a social organ as many neuroscientists assert, and we are greatly affected by the degree of face-to-face contact we engage in. "The Village Effect" underscores this, highlighting many studies which illustrate this concept. The book uses established psychological research in stating opinions. For example: that women are better communicators than men, which some have taken offense to. While this is statistically true (according to research), that does not mean that it is in a blanket sense; that all women are better than all men, and so forth. What it does imply, is that women are socialized to be more obviously interpersonal, whereas men are socialized to communicate in other ways. The subtleties are not well explained where research is concerned, however, anyone used to reading psychology books will be familiar with these conventions.

I was disappointed to not see as much regarding neuroscience as I would have liked (I am, of course, very biased). In counseling right now, the need for social bonds to assist in brain development and avoiding illness is undeniable - a lack of good attachment and support systems are well known to cause mental illness. What this book excels at is explaining the very basics to a layperson.

If you want a more detailed purview, read Helen Fisher or Louis Cozolino's work. However, for most people this is a nice introduction. This book is about the behavioral manifestations of social neuroscience principals, even though it doesn't mention it literally for the most part.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Susan Pinker is a Canadian psychologist and journalist who has now written a second book to go along with her The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap. This book, The Village Effect, explores how our social bonds and networks affect how we think and even how long we live. Susan Pinker mixes anecdote and science to make her case that face-to-face contact can make us more healthy, more happy, and generally all-around better.

Susan Pinker makes a persuasive case. Her book is well-researched and well-written. She knows what she is talking about, and clearly has thought a lot about what she says. That face-to-face contact has a different effect on us humans than Internet or other contact makes a lot of sense. There's nothing face-to-face about Facebook. Humans have long been a very social species, and our modern lifestyles seem to bring a little alienation and distance between even people who live close to one another. Internet ties do little to bring the closeness that being together in the flesh brings.

But while the book made me think, I also thought the book had a big flaw -- making too much out of stories and experiences. Susan Pinker begins the book with a lengthy description of some people living long lives in a mountain village on the Italian island of Sardinia, arguing that their close social contacts lead to their long lives. That could be true. But it can also be that genetics play a part, or lifestyle, or environmental factors. Human beings are complex, not simple. It's dangerous to connect cause and effect based on anecdotes, no matter how powerful or detailed. That kind of science is too soft.

Some other things that bothered me are less important.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although most of us know that close f2f (face-to-face) relationships are healthier for us psychologically and physically than online social connections, we may not "get" this realization on a gut level. We may not be making the development and maintenance of our f2f relationships enough of a priority - one that is not sacrificed too often to our screen-time connections and activities.

Much of what Susan Pinker tells us in THE VILLAGE EFFECT, resulting from the research to which she refers, is common sense. But reinforcing our common sense and having it confirmed by research can influence us to constructively change our behaviors. Those of us who are neglecting our f2f relationships (the difficulties of forming bonds, and both the trials and satisfactions of real presence) can benefit by taking the time to focus on Pinker's conclusions about how f2f relationships nourish us in ways that online connections (which are easier to form and leave behind, and are less intimate) fail to do so.

In what ways to f2f relationships benefit us? Research shows that people who have a strong network of f2f relationships (close relationships, a range of weaker connections, and belonging to a community) live longer, have stronger immune systems, are less inclined to have cancer, heart disease and dementia, and are better able to handle stress. They are also happier, and the reward centers of their brains are more active, releasing more oxytocin and endorphins.

According to Pinker, the greatest gains results from belonging to a community of likeminded people, off similar age, education and marital status, geographical proximity, with whom we feel known and cared for in reciprocal relationships

Pinker is not opposed to the Internet or relating online.
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