The Village Effect

The Village Effect

How Face-to-face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier

Book - 2014
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In her surprising, entertaining, and persuasive new book, award-winning author and psychologist Susan Pinker shows how face-to-face contact is crucial for learning, happiness, resilience, and longevity.
From birth to death, human beings are hardwired 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. Not just any social networks will do: we need the real, in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends, and communities together.
Marrying the findings of the new field of social neuroscience 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 many of 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" makes us happier. It can also save our lives.

Praise for The Village Effect
"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." -- Publishers Weekly

"A terrific book . . . 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
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, [2014]
ISBN: 9781400069576
Branch Call Number: 302 P65v
Characteristics: 418 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Canadian psychologist Susan Pinker asserts that face-to-face human interaction is the key to health and offers practical tips for creating more intimate and community contacts in life.
"A terrific book . . . Read this book. Then talk about it--in person!--with a friend." --Daniel H. P... Read More »

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Jul 28, 2016

Audio version is well-read. Thought provoking.

ksoles Oct 06, 2014

"The Village Effect" highlights the real and tangible benefits of belonging to a community. No, virtual social networks don't count. But whether you socialize in your familial, remote Italian town, take part in a worship group or merely sit down for a family meal complete with conversation, what matters, argues Susan Pinker, is that you connect with other humans. Indeed, having people to rely upon and spend time with proves as beneficial to health as eating right and exercising. The more we isolate ourselves, the sicker we become, the more pain we experience and the sooner we die.

In a sexist but evident way, this book shows that matriarchy rules society; women position themselves as alphas in most villages and can determine who fits into the community and who sits on the fringes. Men, however, consistently display the inclination to squirrel away, especially if they're married. If they make no effort to socialize, they easily find themselves one person away from being completely alone. But interestingly, Pinker also explores the negative aspects of a close-knit circle. She cites the Ponzi schemes of Bernie Madoff and Eddie Jones as an example of the dark side to community; too much trust can backfire.

Susan Pinker writes in an unassuming manner and renders facts with a plain ease. She sites a multitude of studies but cohesively weaves them into a well-researched, decisive thesis. She also brings personality into the chapters, relaying anecdotes and adding humanity to what would otherwise read as a tedious synthesis of research papers. At times the reader wants to interject that correlation does not necessarily mean causation but overall the varied sources and results of environmental tracking get harder to ignore when they all reach the same conclusions.

"The Village Effect" ultimately proves that you cannot mentally, physically or emotionally afford to become an island unto yourself. It offers a clear indictment against solitude and of thinking that a virtual community can provide any of the mortal benefits of a physical one.


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Dec 12, 2015

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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