Why cooperate? This may be the most important scientific question we have ever, and will ever, face.
The science of cooperation tells us not only how we got here, but also where we might end up. Cooperation explains how strands of DNA gave rise to modern-day nation states. It defines our extraordinary ecological success as well as many of the most surprising features of what make us human: not only why we live in families, why we have grandmothers and why women experience the menopause, but also why we become paranoid and jealous, and why we cheat.
Nichola Raihani also introduces us to other species who, like us, live and work together. From the pied babblers of the Kalahari to the cleaner fish of the Great Barrier Reef, they happen to be some of the most fascinating and extraordinarily successful species on this planet. What do we have in common with these other species, and what is it that sets us apart?
Written at a time of global pandemic, when the challenges and importance of cooperation have never been greater, The Social Instinct is an exhilarating, far-reaching and thought-provoking journey through all life on Earth, with profound insights into what makes us human and how our societies work.
A phenomenally important book. The story of why we humans evolved to become such a wonderfully cooperative, social species, and what that means for the world today. Nichola Raihani will change the way we think about ourselves.
-- Lewis Dartnell, author of Origins: How the Earth Shaped Human HistoryVibrant science about a topic that could not be more important: How did our superpower of cooperation evolve against the odds? This engaging book wears its strong scientific credentials lightly. I could not put it down.
-- Uta Frith, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Development, University College LondonCooperation is at the heart of our bodies, our societies and our ecosystem. Nichola Raihani's stunning book flips the selfish gene on its head, showing us not only how to better understand the world, but also how to change it.
-- Matthew Cobb, author of The Idea of the BrainIn this captivating book, Nichola Raihani ... provides a compelling argument that cooperation is the secret of human success and yet has never been as crucial as it is now, during a global pandemic and with the threat of the climate crisis. I found this intriguing and beautifully written book hard to put down.
-- Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, author of Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage BrainThe Social Instinct is surprising, thoughtful and, best of all, endlessly entertaining, examining the puzzle and power of co-operation from the decks of the HMS Bounty to the babbling birds of the Kalahari. Absolutely loved it.
-- Will Storr, author of The Science of Storytelling
About the Author
Nichola Raihani is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor in Evolution and Behaviour at UCL. Her group's research focuses on the evolution of social behaviour in humans and non-human species. She has been widely published in scientific journals, won the 2018 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Psychology for her research achievements, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2018. She has also worked in the BBC Science Development Team, and appeared on several podcasts and radio shows, including BBC Radio 4’s ‘Hacking the Unconscious’ and ‘Thought Cages’.