Companion Animal Psychology Book Club December 2020

“Brilliant, eye-opening, and absolutely inspiring—and a riveting read. Hare and Woods have written the perfect book for our time.”—Cass R. Sunstein

Animal Book Club 2020: This month's choice is Survival of the Friendliest by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods


By Zazie Todd, PhD

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This month, the Animal Book Club is reading Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods.

From the inside cover,

"For most of the approximately 300,000 years that Homo sapiens have existed, we have shared the planet with at least four other types of humans. All of these were smart, strong, and inventive. But around 50,000 years ago, Homo sapiens made a cognitive leap that gave us an edge over other species. What happened?

Since Charles Darwin wrote about “evolutionary fitness,” the idea of fitness has been confused with physical strength, tactical brilliance, and aggression. In fact, what made us evolutionarily fit was a remarkable kind of friendliness, a virtuosic ability to coordinate and communicate with others that allowed us to achieve all the cultural and technical marvels in human history. Advancing what they call the “self-domestication theory,” Brian Hare, professor in the department of evolutionary anthropology and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University and his wife, Vanessa Woods, a research scientist and award-winning journalist, shed light on the mysterious leap in human cognition that allowed Homo sapiens to thrive."

This and all of the book choices (and more!) are available in my Amazon store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/animalbookclub

If you want to join the book club, ask on Facebook and be sure to answer both of the questions. Members are expected to read and comment on at least 7 of the 10 books each year. 

If you prefer more general chit chat about animal books without a commitment to read and comment each month, you may prefer the Animal Books Facebook group. If you want to join, please do so as yourself, not as your Facebook page (even if you are an author).


Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology, where she writes about everything from training methods to the human-canine relationship. She also writes a column for Psychology Today and has received the prestigious Captain Haggerty Award for Best Training Article in 2017. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband and two cats.

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