When researchers refer to the concept of social connection, they mean the feeling that you belong to a group and generally feel close to other people. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that this is a core psychological need, essential to feeling satisfied with your life.
Indeed, humans are a profoundly social species; our drive to connect with others is embedded in our biology and evolutionary history. It begins at birth, in our relationship with our caregiver—and the effects of this relationship seem to reverberate throughout our lives. When we’re cared for as children, we’re more likely to have healthy, secure attachments as we get older.
What’s more, the pleasures of social life register in our brains much the same way physical pleasure does, and our knack for social connection is reflected in some of the most basic ways humans communicate—by subtle uses of our voice, facial expressions, and sense of touch. Scientists believe we are essentially wired to connect with other people because natural selection favored humans with a stronger propensity to care for their offspring and organize into groups.
“To the extent that we can characterize evolution as designing our modern brains, this is what our brains were wired for: reaching out to and interacting with others,” writes neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman in his book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. “These social adaptations are central to making us the most successful species on earth.”