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Watch > Episode > William von Hippel - The Social Leap

William von Hippel - The Social Leap

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The New Evolutionary Science of Who We Are, Where We Come From, and What Makes Us Happy

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.

William von Hippel is an academic, 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 latest 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. Von Hippel has published over one hundred academic articles and been featured in The New York Times, USA Today and The Economist.

In this milestone interview, Bill joins Brian Rose to talk about why he wrote his new book, why tribalism developed (and how it affects us today) and why in a hundred thousand years time there may no longer be male and female roles.

William von Hippel received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan, marking the beginning of a prolific academic journey. He has held positions at prestigious institutions, including Ohio State University and the University of New South Wales in Australia, where he currently serves as a professor of psychology. Von Hippel’s research and teachings focus on evolutionary psychology, social cognition, and the intersection of biology and behaviour.

One of William von Hippel’s primary areas of expertise is evolutionary psychology, a field that seeks to understand human behaviour through the lens of evolutionary adaptations. His research explores how the challenges faced by our ancestors have shaped the cognitive and social mechanisms that govern our thoughts and actions today. Von Hippel’s work emphasises the importance of evolutionary principles in deciphering various aspects of human behaviour.

Within the realm of social cognition, von Hippel investigates how individuals perceive and understand the thoughts and intentions of others. His research sheds light on the cognitive processes that underlie social interactions, cooperation, and competition. Von Hippel’s work has practical applications, offering insights into decision-making processes, cooperation strategies, and the dynamics of social relationships.

In addition to his academic contributions, William von Hippel has shared his insights with a broader audience through his book, “The Social Leap: The New Evolutionary Science of Who We Are, Where We Come From, and What Makes Us Happy.” In this book, von Hippel explores the evolution of human sociality, providing readers with a compelling narrative that connects our past with contemporary behaviour. “The Social Leap” delves into the origins of human cooperation, the development of language, and the factors that contribute to human happiness.

William von Hippel’s work extends beyond traditional psychology, embracing interdisciplinary collaborations. He has engaged with researchers from fields such as biology, anthropology, and neuroscience, fostering a holistic approach to understanding the complexities of human behaviour. This interdisciplinary perspective enriches his research, allowing for a more comprehensive exploration of the factors that influence the human mind.

Beyond his academic pursuits, William von Hippel is actively engaged in public outreach. He participates in podcasts, interviews, and public lectures, translating complex psychological concepts into accessible and relatable discussions. Von Hippel’s efforts to communicate the relevance of psychology to broader audiences contribute to the dissemination of knowledge and the promotion of scientific literacy.

While William von Hippel’s work has garnered widespread acclaim, as with any scientific endeavour, there are debates and critiques within the academic community. Scholars may offer alternative perspectives or challenge specific aspects of evolutionary psychology. Such discussions are inherent to the scientific process, encouraging continuous refinement and improvement of theories and models.

William von Hippel’s contributions to psychology have significantly advanced our understanding of human behaviour. Through his research, teaching, and public engagement efforts, von Hippel has illuminated the ways in which our evolutionary past shapes our present-day thoughts and actions. As he continues to explore the intricacies of the human mind, William von Hippel stands as a prominent figure in the field, contributing to both academic scholarship and the broader conversation about what it means to be human.

Chapters

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
1:09:00 | 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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