The Social Leap: The New Evolutionary Science of Who We Are, Where We Come from, and What Makes Us Happy (Paperback)

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“A rollicking tour through humanity’s evolutionary past, and von Hippel is the consummate tour guide. With equal parts wisdom, humor, authority, and charm, he shows how our past explains the present and why our well-being rests on an understanding of how our minds evolved.”—Adam Alter, New York Times bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink and Irresistible

Human psychology is rife with contradictions: We work hard to achieve our goals, but happiness at our success is fleeting. We hope our friends will do well but can’t help but feel jealous if they do too well. We’re aghast at the thought of people we know being murdered, but are unconcerned when our armed forces kill enemies we’ve never met. We complain about difficult bosses but are often just as bad when we’re in charge.

These inconsistencies may seem irrational, but each evolved to serve a vital function in our lives. Indeed, the most fundamental aspects of our psychology were permanently shaped by the “social leap” our ancestors made from the rainforest to the savannah. In their struggle to survive on the open grasslands, our ancestors prioritized teamwork and sociality over physical prowess, creating an entirely new kind of intelligence that forever altered our place on this planet.

A blend of anthropology, biology, history, and psychology with evolutionary science, The Social Leap traces our evolutionary history to show how events in our distant past continue to shape our lives today. From why we exaggerate to why we believe our own lies, the implications are far-reaching and extraordinary.

About the Author


William von Hippel grew up in Alaska, got his B.A. at Yale and his PhD at the University of Michigan, and then taught for a dozen years at Ohio State University before finding his way to Australia, where he is a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland. He has published more than a hundred articles, chapters, and edited books, and his research has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Economist, the BBC, Le Monde, El Mundo, Der Spiegel, and The Australian. He lives with his wife and two children in Brisbane, Australia.

Praise For…


The Social Leap is a rollicking tour through humanity’s evolutionary past, and William von Hippel is the consummate tour guide. With equal parts wisdom, humor, authority, and charm, von Hippel shows how our past explains the present and why our well-being rests on an understanding of how our minds evolved.” — Adam Alter, New York Times bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink and Irresistible

“Forget gold toilets and private jets. The key to happiness may just lie in a cheeseburger—or a sandbox. Full of insight into human character, von Hippel’s book provides a stimulating program for measuring success without material yardsticks.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The Social Leap is one of the best books I have read in years. Its examination of the evolutionary roots of modern human behavior is both profound and revelatory. Seamlessly weaving captivating stories, rich science, and beautiful prose, von Hippel offers an unparalleled glimpse into the lives of our ancestors and, thereby, into our selves.” — Sonja Lyubomirsky, New York Times bestselling author of The How of Happiness

The Social Leap is a rollicking tour through humanity’s evolutionary past, and William von Hippel is the consummate tour guide. With equal parts wisdom, humor, authority, and charm, von Hippel shows how our past explains the present and why our well-being rests on an understanding of how our minds evolved.” — Roy Baumeister, New York Times bestselling author of Willpower

“This book is for everybody.  Everybody, that is, who has a shred of curiosity about how we came to become human. von Hippel’s panoramic view prompts us to ask ourselves: what do we wish to do with the miracle that we are now here?”   — Mahzarin R. Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Psychology, Harvard University



Product Details
ISBN: 9780062740403
ISBN-10: 0062740407
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publication Date: March 15th, 2022
Pages: 304
Language: English