The Student's Guide to Social Neuroscience (Paperback) book cover

The Student's Guide to Social Neuroscience

By Jamie Ward

© 2012 – Psychology Press

352 pages

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pub: 2011-10-14
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About the Book

Shortlisted for the British Psychological Society Book Award 2013!

Social neuroscience is an expanding field which, by investigating the neural mechanisms that inform our behavior, explains our ability to recognize, understand, and interact with others. Concepts such as trust, revenge, empathy, prejudice, and love are now being explored and unraveled by the methods of neuroscience.

Many researchers believe that evolutionary expansion of the primate and human brain was driven by the need to deal with social complexity, not only to understand and outwit our peers, but to take advantage of the benefits of cooperative living. But what kind of brain-based mechanisms did we end up with? Special routines for dealing with social problems, or more general solutions that can be used for non-social cognition too? How are we able to sacrifice our own self-interests to respond to the needs of others? How do cultural differences in the organization of society shape individual minds (and brains), and does the brain provide constraints on the possible range of cultural permutations? The Student’s Guide to Social Neuroscience explores and explains these big issues, using accessible examples from contemporary research.

The first book of its kind, this engaging and cutting-edge text is an ideal introduction to the methods and concepts of social neuroscience for undergraduate and postgraduate students in fields such as psychology and neuroscience. Each chapter is richly illustrated in attractive full-color with figures, boxes, and ‘real-world’ implications of research. Several pedagogical features help students engage with the material, including essay questions, summary and key points, and further reading. This book is accompanied by substantial online resources that are available to qualifying adopters.


"One of the first books of its kind to explore the brain mechanisms involved in creating and interacting with our social environment. … A good companion to Ward's popular A Student's Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience … both recommended as introductory texts for undergraduate and postgraduate students because of their easy to read style, accompanying colour illustrations, definitions, as well as chapter summaries." -Karima Susi, Nottingham Trent University, UK, in The Psychologist

"I stopped using textbooks more than a decade ago, but that's about to change. Given that Ward's is the very first textbook focusing on social neuroscience, I am extremely impressed. It will be the best around for years to come. It is current, broad, and precise. The writing style will be accessible to undergraduates, graduates, and even professors. It is the perfect introduction to this exciting new field." - Matthew D. Lieberman, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

"The first book of its kind, this well written and accessible text provides a compelling introduction to many of the fascinating questions, methods, and findings in the burgeoning field of social neuroscience." - John T. Cacioppo, Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago, USA

"This book will be very useful in providing students with a complete and clear introduction to the field of social neuroscience. Particularly useful is the inclusion of a chapter on social neuroscience methods, that will give students the tools to better understand the extensive collection of studies described in the book." - Iroise Dumontheil, Institute of Neuroscience, University College London, UK

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Social Neuroscience 2. The Methods of Social Neuroscience 3. Evolutionary Origins of Social Intelligence and Culture 4. Emotion and Motivation 5. Reading Faces and Bodies 6. Understanding Others 7. Interacting with Others 8. Relationships 9. Groups and Identity 10. Morality and Anti-Social Behaviour 11. Developmental Social Neuroscience

About the Author

Dr Jamie Ward is an Associate Professor at the University of Sussex, UK. He has published over 60 scientific papers and several books including The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience (now in its second edition) and The Frog who Croaked Blue: Synesthesia and the Mixing of the Senses. He is the editor-in-chief of Cognitive Neuroscience, a journal from Psychology Press.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Interpersonal Relations
PSYCHOLOGY / Neuropsychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General