The Village Effect
How Face-to-face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and HappierBook - 2014
From birth to death, human beings are hard-wired to connect to other human beings. Face-to-face contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. Looser in-person bonds matter, too, combining with our close relationships to form a personal "village" around us, one that exerts unique effects. And not just any social networks will do: we need the real, face-to-face, in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends and communities together.
Marrying the findings of the new field of social neuroscience together with gripping human stories, Susan Pinker explores the impact of face-to-face contact from cradle to grave, from city to Sardinian mountain village, from classroom to workplace, from love to marriage to divorce. Her results are enlightening and enlivening, and they challenge our assumptions. Most of us have left the literal village behind, and don't want to give up our new technologies to go back there. But, as Pinker writes so compellingly, we need close social bonds and uninterrupted face-time with our friends and families in order to thrive--even to survive. Creating our own "village effect" can make us happier. It can also save our lives.
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Social contact around the dinner table seemed to promote family cohesion and "problem-focused coping," the auhtors write, which probably reduced the girls' risky antics later... The researchers discovered that Americans relate half as many stories at mealtimes as Norwegians do, but they explain things twice as often. And when they do, they like it to be dramatic. (Norwegian preschooler: Nils wore a green sweater to preschool today. American preschooler: Johnny threw up today and it was orange.) What's common to both statement is that they invite parents to respond - to throw the ball back to the child, who will likely toss it back again, keeping the volley going.
That's why I am suggesting that shared meals offer a head start for picking up the subtleties of language and social interaction. They also help us feel that we belong somewhere. p.120-1
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