William von Hippel – The Social Leap

William von Hippel is an author and expert in evolutionary psychology.

He studied at Yale and the University of Michigan, and is now a Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland.

His book The Social Leap: The New Evolutionary Science of Who We Are, Where We Come From, and What Makes Us Happy, traces our evolutionary history to show how events in our distant past continue to shape our lives today.

William has published over one hundred academic articles and been featured in The New York Times, USA Today and The Economist.


00:00 Trailer.

02:16 Brian’s thoughts on the episode.

03:23 Brian’s introduction.

03:54 Bill’s impression of London and what he observes socially of the British.

05:00 Introducing the story of Bill’s book The Social Leap and linking it to the ethos of London Real.

09:12 Why Bill wrote the book and why it begins 7 million years ago.

25:50 When our brain growth and capacity increased rapidly and the NOTCH2NL gene is put to use.

27:52 Why tribalism develops as we evolve from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens and how it affects us today.

31:19 Our traits, attitudes and preferences are fifty percent from our genes and 50 percent through our experience.

33:44 How quickly we revert to tribalism.

36:33 Why we gossip, engage in storytelling and lying.

47:22 Reproduction is the currency of evolution.

49:43 What a female looks for in a future mate and why.

53:55 We are a serial monogamy species.

57:21 Women usually choose a risk taker and male behaviour is guided by female preference.

59:46 How current evolution is affecting our choosing mechanism, population size and distribution.

1:04:06 In one hundred thousand years-time there may no longer be male and female roles.

1:05:17 What evolution teaches us about leadership. The elephant and baboon world leaders.

1:13:58 The waxing and waning of individualism within societies.

1:17:24 The paralysing effect on people of modern high connectivity, except for Donald Trump’s supporters.

1:24:02 Take risks, there are two types of sin in this world, commission or omission.

1:32:13 As we age our priorities change.

1:38:43 What can be done about modern day tribalism.

1:40:41 Bill’s prognosis for environmental evolution.

1:45:13 The 10 building blocks that make on average a happy life … stay present.

1:49:23 …food, friends and sexual relationships.

1:50:34 Bill agrees that “We shouldn’t search for happiness we should search for meaning”.

1:52:10 What is Bill’s superpower.

1:53:04 How people can be better story tellers.

1:55:12 The best and worst days of his life.

1:57:05 What scares Bill.

1:58:46 What he does for fun.

1:59:40 What keeps him awake at night.

2:00:12 What will he be doing in ten years.

2:01:38 What it is like for him to be living in Australia.

2:03:25 Phone call to the twenty-five years old Bill.

2:04:35 Best advice he ever received.

2:05:46 Success secrets.

2:06:43 Advice to the young person listening.

2:09:07 Brian’s summing up.

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Excellent take on current human behavior based on evolution.


very informative


Nowadays, the risk of staying with a woman is greater than 50% divorce…Eighty percent of those divorces are initiated by the female. If you went skydiving and the pilot told you that 8 out of the 10 parachutes will not open, but he doesn’t know which ones, would you still jump?