The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life


The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life


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Our brains are designed to further our self-interests while not appearing selfish to others, often by hiding selfish motives from our own consciousness. There are multiple hidden motives impacting everyone’s behavior and even the structure of society’s most venerated institutions such as churches, charities, hospitals, and universities. Various branches of research have found an “elephant” in our brain.

  1. Microsociology studies small-scale interactions and demonstrates both the complexity of social behaviors and their unconscious motivations.

  2. Cognitive & social psychology studies how our brains fabricate plausible pro social motives to cover-up our true, self-serving agendas.

  3. Primatology studies how primates will acknowledge other species’ selfish motives while portraying their own behaviors as pro-social.

  4. Economics studies how social institutions frequently fall short of their stated purpose.

These findings suggest that we are often strangers to ourselves. This book explains how most of our behavior can be distilled down into selfish motivations.

“We, humans beings, are a species that’s not only capable of acting on hidden motives – we’re designed to do it.”

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