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The Social Brain and the Workplace

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The Social Brain and the Workplace

Talks at Google with Matthew Lieberman

Talks at Google,

5 min. de leitura
3 Ideias Fundamentais
Áudio & Texto

Sobre o que é?

Learn how advances in neuroscience could transform work.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


New research in social psychology is overturning old truths about human nature and suggesting fresh approaches to employee motivation. Advances in brain imaging technology promise to revolutionize workplace practices, including recruiting and performance management. In his fascinating Talk at Google, neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman describes these advances, offers insights that could transform management approaches, and looks at the potential of brain imaging in schools and workplaces.


Humans are selfish, but they’re also highly social.

For centuries, researchers thought humans are motivated solely by self-interest: homo economicus. But research suggests people also have intrinsic social motivations. For example, people – and all mammals – suffer “social pain” when they sense their social connections are under threat. Research shows social pain is more than a metaphor: The brain responds in the same way to social pain as to physical pain – and taking Tylenol will relieve social pain the same way it relieves a headache.

People also experience social pleasure – which, like social pain, shows up in brain scans as activity in the ventral striatum. When people experience being liked, loved, understood or respected, they feel pleasure, and the ventral striatum simultaneously lights up. This part of the brain system also shows activity when people do things for others, suggesting that service gives people the exact same kind of pleasure as receiving love or respect.

The brain even has a separate network that processes social thinking. The analytical and social...

About the Speaker

Matthew Lieberman is professor of social psychology at UCLA, where he serves as director of the UCLA Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. He is the co-founder and chief scientist of Resonance, where he studies how the human brain understands and engages with the social world. He is also the best-selling author of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.

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