Scientists know that the relationships we forge with others have a significant impact on us and them. These relationships include family members, our romantic partners, and our friends. Of these three categories, the first two have been closely examined and much has been written about them, and rightly so. Family and romantic relationships hold enormous power over us and reverberate through our lives for good and for ill.
Friendship has the same power, but in comparison to relationships forged in blood and love, science has historically given friendship short shrift. It was too ephemeral, too squishy, too hard to define and measure to be taken seriously by the wider scientific world. However, more recently scientists have begun to take friendship more seriously. It turns out that friendship does have survival value in the most literal sense - more socially integrated people live longer than those who are less well-connected, and there are biological and evolutionary foundations to friendship.
Travelling from a one-of-a-kind monkey colony in Puerto Rico, to neuroscience labs where researchers are assembling a puzzle whose pieces span the evolutionary chain, Friendship: A Natural History illuminates the hidden history of our connection-seeking species. Along the way, we learn why children - even before they can talk - are sensitive to the joy and sadness of others; the reasons teenagers are relentlessly focused on their friends; and the myriad ways that our health and longevity are impacted by the investments we make - or don't - in intimate, face-to-face relationships.
At this particular moment, when virtual experiences are increasingly displacing the physical, Friendship exposes the invisible forces, refined over millennia, that drive us to become ever more connected. And it ignites an all-too-necessary conversation about the high-cost of neglecting the bonds that sustain us.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 288
Dimensions: 216 x 135 mm