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The Social Brain
The Social Brain

The Social Brain

The Psychology of Successful Groups



272 Pages, 5 x 7.75

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $21.99 (US $21.99)

Publication Date: June 2024

ISBN 9781847943620

Rights: US

Penguin Random House UK (Jun 2024)

Sorry, this item is temporarily out of stock


Experts in psychology and strategic leadership reveal how to build teams that really work.

'A remarkable and important book . . . a highly accessible, timely and invaluable guide to anybody working in groups.' Prof Paul Gilbert OBE, author, The Compassionate Mind
How many people does the ideal team contain? How do groups bond, earn trust and forge shared identities? How can leaders build environments adaptable enough to respond to shocks and still enable people to thrive together? How can you feel close to people if your only point of contact is a phone or a computer?

In The Social Brain leading experts from the worlds of evolutionary psychology and business management come together to offer a primer on great team working. They explain what size groups work and how to shape them according to the nature of the task at hand. They offer practical hints on how to diffuse tensions and encourage cooperation. And they demonstrate the vital importance of balancing unity and the need for different views and outlooks. By explaining precisely how the 'social brain' works, they show how human groups function and how to create great, high- performing teams.
'This wonderful book reminds us that businesses are also biological and social . . . It could not be more timely, wise and useful.' Margaret Heffernan, author, Beyond Measure


We are a species whose social relationships have profound impacts on us physiologically, psychologically and socially, orientating us towards health and pro-social behavior or away from them. In this remarkable and important book, international researchers and pioneers guide readers through the research on the evolution and social dynamics of small groups and how to cultivate them to bring out the best in us, rather than the worst. This book is a highly accessible, timely and invaluable guide to anybody working in groups, including businesses, schools and governments. -- Prof Paul Gilbert OBE, author of THE COMPASSIONATE MIND, and founder of compassion focused therapy

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, an engineering mindset has dominated management thinking, making it easy for managers to forget that, ultimately, productive work is human. This wonderful book reminds us that businesses are also biological and social: created by living beings who can - and want to - transcend individual capacity with collective intelligence.
It could not be more timely, wise and useful. -- Margaret Heffernan, author of Wilful Blindness

The world, particularly post the COVID-19 pandemic, is desperate for compassionate leaders who show disproportionate regard for community, belonging and fellowship.
The Social Brain is a clarion call for all leaders to heed. -- Dr Alistair Mokoena, Director of Google South Africa

The hardest part of the modern leader's job isn't strategy, finance or technology: the biggest challenge in today's corporation is human-shaped: how to lead the tribes and the talent to deliver your plans.
This thoughtful and charming book provides an essential and evidence-based map to our humanity. Buy it for yourself and your colleagues. Essential reading. -- Mark Earls, author of HERD

The perfect compass for those seeking to create not only healthy teams, but high-performing ones. -- Owen Eastwood, performance coach, speaker and author of BELONGING

Author Biography

Tracey Camilleri is an Associate Fellow at Oxford University's Said Business School and the co-founder, along with Sam Rockey, of Thompson Harrison.

Sam Rockey is an Associate Fellow at the Oxford Said Business School Open program and was formerly the Global Head of Leadership Development at the FTSE top-10 company SABMiller, now part of AB InBev.

Robin Dunbar is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College. He is best known for the social brain hypothesis, the gossip theory of language evolution and Dunbar's Number (the limit of 150 on the number of relationships that we can manage). His books include Evolutionary Psychology: A Beginner's Guide, How Religion Evolved and Friends.