David speaks with David Robson, an award-winning science writer specializing in the extremes of the human brain, body, and behaviour. He has previously worked as a features editor at New Scientist and senior journalist at the BBC. He is the author of The Intelligence Trap, which has been translated into fifteen languages, The Expectation Effect, and The Laws of Connection.

They talked about:

🧠 The brain's influence on physiology

🀝 The connection of mind and body

πŸ’­ Cultural and psychological influences on health

πŸ’ͺ The importance of building mental resilience

πŸ› οΈ How to manage stress effectively

πŸ”— The impact of social connections on health

This is just one part of a longer conversation, and it's the third part. You can listen to the earlier episode here:

Part 1: πŸŽ™οΈ Science, Reasoning, and The Intelligence Trap with David Robson (Episode 97)

Part 2: πŸŽ™οΈ The Expectation Effect with David Robson (Episode 100)

πŸŽ™ Listen to your favourite podcast player

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πŸ“„ Show notes:

[00:00] Introduction

[02:02] The role of culture in health perceptions

[04:06] The stigma around psychogenic illnesses

[07:29] The Nocebo Effect

[09:12] The Dancing Plague

[10:57] How expectations affect vision

[12:45] The importance of having psychological strength

[14:00] The anatomy of stress

[15:46] Understanding stress management

[18:15] Stress management strategies

[19:53] Finding fitness in everyday chores

[22:16] The influence of stress on behaviour

[22:55] The damage of social comparison

[24:01] Upcoming book: The Laws of Connection

[26:02] Social connections’ influence on health

πŸ—£ Mentioned in the show:

Mass Psychogenic Illness | https://theknowledge.io/issue33/#:~:text=The power of,be socially influenced.

The June Bug Epidemic | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysterical_contagion

Jonathan Haidt | https://jonathanhaidt.com/

The Coddling of the American Mind | https://amzn.to/4cfEU9p

Havana Syndrome | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana_syndrome#:~:text=Havana syndrome

Nocebo | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocebo

Dancing plague of 1518 | https://theknowledge.io/issue33/#:~:text=The power of,be socially influenced.

Allostasis | https://theknowledge.io/the-prediction-machine/

Yerkes–Dodson Law | https://theknowledge.io/issue23/

The Laws of Connection | https://amzn.to/3z9VKrR

Full episode transcript below

πŸ‘€Connect with David:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/d_a_robson

Website: https://davidrobson.me/


The Intelligence Trap | https://amzn.to/4aWELqZ

The Expectation Effect | https://amzn.to/4bkisve

The Laws of Connection | https://amzn.to/3z9VKrR

πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’» About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

🐣 Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge

🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com

πŸ“½οΈ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/davidelikwu

πŸ“Έ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delikwu/

πŸ•Ί TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@delikwu

πŸŽ™οΈ Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge

πŸ“– Free Book: https://pro.theknowledge.io/frames

My Online Course

πŸ–₯️ Decision Hacker: http://www.decisionhacker.io/

Decision Hacker will help you hack your default patterns and become an intentional architect of your life. You’ll learn everything you need to transform your decisions, your habits, and your outcomes.

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πŸ“œFull transcript:



David Robson: If you're constantly looking at people who are like, probably airbrushed and comparing yourself negatively to those people, it subsequently at the gym, it makes the exercise that you're doing feel a lot harder because you've kind of downgraded your expectations of what you can achieve. Yeah, like the kind of runner's joy at the end of the, of your workout. Like, you don't get that rush of endorphins, because you're just like, you've been so down on yourself and you've appraised all of the symptoms of exercising as being negative and signs of your lack of fitness rather than being a kind of sign of growth and development.

David Elikwu: This week, I'm sharing the third part of my conversation with David Robson, who is an award winning science writer specializing in the extremes of the human brain, body, and behavior.

Now, David previously worked as a features editor at the New Scientist and as a senior journalist at the BBC. He's the author of three awesome books, The Intelligence Trap, The Expectation Effect and The Laws of Connections, which is releasing in June, 2024.

So in this [00:01:00] third part of our conversation, you're going to hear us talking about the brain's influence on our physiology and how the things that we believe can change the way that we experience the world, not just mentally, but actually physically.

So we talk about the mind and body connection. We talk about the cultural and psychological influences on our health. We talk about building mental resilience. We talk about stress management. And then finally we talk about David's third book which was upcoming at the time The Laws of Connection and some of the really interesting ideas that you can look forward to coming out in that book.

So you can get the full show notes the transcript and read my newsletter at theknowledge.io and you can find David online on Twitter @D_A_Robson, we'll have the links to all his profiles and all his books in the description and in the show notes.

And if you love this episode, please do share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts, because it helps us tremendously to find other listeners just like you.


The role of culture in health perceptions

David Elikwu: You know, it's just so incredible that, the ways that we think and the belief systems that we have, how that can shape our outcomes and we can talk in a bit about maybe like religion and how that can play a part and faith and also culture and stuff as well. But one thing I did want to ask you about is like mass psychogenic illnesses and your thoughts on that.

And I think I've heard you talk about the Havana syndrome before, but there's a few other ones that I find incredibly interesting. One being the June bug incident. And that's kind of where that word comes from is that in June in a factory, I don't know if it was somewhere in the U.S. but suddenly some women that worked in this factory suddenly start falling sick. And first a few people are sick, then suddenly more people are sick. And then suddenly everyone's sick, that's why it's called the June bug, like this mysterious illness. And suddenly you rush people to the hospital and you say, Hey, what's wrong? And it turns out that well there's nothing, there's no pathogen that they can find. It just seems that everyone has fallen sick and they exhibit all the symptoms of actually being sick, [00:03:00] but they might not be.

And I think that connects in a sense to, I don't know if you've read the book by Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American mind. And I think lots of other people have written things with a similar sentiment. This idea that now people describe it specifically with regards to young people, but I think it's a bit more prevalent as well. The potential idea that there are a lot of people that maybe feel like anxiety or depression or deal with certain things that are very real. And I think this is the key, it's not that they're just making it up. But them feeling this thing could also just be a result of it being incredibly socialized and when you see loads of other people going through something or feeling a particular thing, then suddenly you feel that way as well. Especially if you're predisposed to think that that might be true.

And I think the Havana syndrome is probably a decent example of it where, and you can explain the full story, but you know, if you have a predisposition to think of something through a particular lens and then suddenly you have an excuse of, Oh, Hey, what are these [00:04:00] symptoms? Maybe it's related and then suddenly your, your body can progress through all kinds of things just as a result.

The stigma around psychogenic illnesses

David Robson: Yeah, absolutely. Havana syndrome is super controversial, so I am careful with how I talk about it. But I mean, because you just get such conflicting opinions from Doctors. But essentially, you know, they're with these diplomats in Cuba, who started developing these strange symptoms like dizziness, headaches, nausea. Symptoms that happen to be very common in mass psychogenic illnesses, which we know can be created by expectation.

Like, again, it's all mechanisms that we understand well for how the brain's expectations can shape our physiology and change our the way we feel about our health. But anyway, you know, soon, like, rumours started circulating that there was this kind of like, first of all, it was an acoustic weapon, then there was this idea it might be using electromagnetic radiation, some kind of mysterious weapon that was working at a distance to cause neurological [00:05:00] damage to these diplomats.

Now, no one has been able to identify that weapon. It's not even clear how that weapon would function. When they thought it was an acoustic weapon, someone made a tape recording which they thought, you know, would be able to reveal the source of it. When scientists did an acoustic check, however, and analyses of those recordings, they found it was actually just the sound of crickets outside like, there was no actual man made sound that could be causing the symptoms.

And so, you know, lots of like, very well respected neurologists believe that this is what's called a psychogenic illness or a functional illness. And again, it's like the opposite of a placebo effect. It's when you expect to become ill, your brain can actually start to create those symptoms.

Now there's a lot of stigma around this, so you would see, you know, senators, who are you know, looking into these issues. They would be like, oh, it can't be like a, a mass psychogenic illness because these people are too smart to be faking it.

[00:06:00] Well, we know that when people suffer from a psychogenic illness, they're not faking the symptoms. The symptoms are very real, but there's something has gone wrong in the brain's predictions and simulations that's causing them to think there's a threat to their health when there isn't, and that's producing the symptoms. It's actually, I think it's very insulting to treat these psychogenic illnesses as, you know, this kind of malingering or kind of made up illness, because it's actually you know, we saw the same stigma around mental health, and now I think we've moved beyond that with perceptions of depression or anxiety. But actually, even when you're suffering these other symptoms like dizziness or nausea, or headaches that might be coming from a psychological cause, I don't think there should be any stigma around that as well.

And you know, we see similar cases of mass psychogenic illnesses in so many different areas. You'll have like mass fainting fits when people have been vaccinated, for example, in areas where there is a risk of warfare, you'll find that people believe that there's been a chemical [00:07:00] weapon nearby that suddenly, you know, people become very sick very quickly.

We need to treat those people with respect, but you know, by reducing the stigma, they're actually much more likely to respond well to the psychological treatments and to benefit, whereas if you treat you know, psychogenic illness with stigma and act as if these people are like mad or faking it, they're just much less likely to talk to the doctors, much less likely to understand the causes of their symptoms. And you know, that's only going to make their problems linger for longer.

The nocebo effect

David Elikwu: Yeah. And it's interesting how you can go up and down the spectrum on this, because I mean, okay, to double down on what you were saying you know, the symptoms are very much real, like this isn't related to psychogenic illnesses. But the one study that comes to mind is a Japanese study where they got some people that were allergic to poison ivy and they got them to put both of their hands out and then on one hand, they rubbed the poison ivy and on the other hand, they rubbed just a harmless leaf and they switched hands for some people. And the people that were allergic [00:08:00] start reacting, they have the actual reaction that they have to poison Ivy, but to a harmless leaf. And what I love about that study is that they use both hands, right? So it's not just like, Oh, they happened across their body, they react only on the hand that they think the poison Ivy has touched. The other hand is fine, but they actually touch the other hand with the poison Ivy. So, you know, are you allergic to this thing or are you not? Because you don't react on this hand, you reacted on, on the other hand.

I think the point is that, yeah, like your body can actually create the symptoms of a sickness. And I think this is called a nocebo, right? Where you believe something bad has happened and so your body responds as though that bad thing has happened. And usually that might be because, so for example, when people feel sick, you're feeling sick because your body's trying to flush out the sickness. You're not feeling the pathogen itself. So the point is that the physiological reaction that you're experiencing of feeling sickness is your body trying to get rid of something, whether or not there is something to get rid of. And that's why people say, for example, sometimes that let's say you're stressed or you're burnt out. Then you can start feeling like you're [00:09:00] sick because your body is trying to do the same thing. Like your brain doesn't actually know what's going on. It's just saying, Hey, you know, I feel under fire here. I feel under pressure. Something's attacking me, something's not right. And it's just responding in the exact same way.

The dancing plague

David Elikwu: But then, so that's on one side of the spectrum where, okay, it gets extremely serious, but then one example that came to mind on the other side of the spectrum where it's still just as true but harder to believe is, I'm not sure if you've heard about the, the dancing flu's.

David Robson: No, I haven't.

David Elikwu: Okay, so this happened twice in across Europe, actually, once in the 1400s and once in the 1700s. So quite a bit of time between them, but enough time that makes it even more interesting because then it's kind of out of living memory, especially back in those days, where suddenly people just started breaking out into fits of spontaneous daunting that spread contagiously and people died, which sounds insane, but you know, people just dance until they were collapsing. People were vomiting, people were, you know, having heart attacks and collapsing in the street. And that, when you hear it sounds [00:10:00] ridiculous, like what on earth is going on?

But it speaks to this very strange power that the brain has to produce all kinds of effects and do whatever it thinks is meant to be happening.

How expectations affect vision

David Robson: Yeah, exactly. And even when, you [00:11:00] know, so these are kind of contagious effects, but you know, you have individual cases where people might report to a neurologist with blindness, and the neurologist will check their eyes, check the visual system, it all seems to be intact, like there's no brain damage, there's no problem with the retina, but they can't see. And that is because for whatever reason, the brain, you know, when it's working as this prediction machine that's using its expectations to process sensory data, it's just blanking out what's coming in from the eyes.

And you can treat that like, if the patient is, I think if the clinician presents this in, in a way that, you know, reduces the stigma to the patient and explains it in a way that they can understand and shows compassion for what they're suffering, then you can start treatments, you can start psychological treatments, you know, help the patient to try to kind of reprogram their mind in some way so that they can start to see what's coming in from their eyes. You can apply kind of [00:12:00] stimulation to the visual cortices, for example, which can produce some involuntary kind of flashes of light that can kind of just act as a proof to that patient that like, the visual system is intact and then you can, you know, build on that to help, help to open their mind to the possibility that actually their eyes are working fine and that they can see.

And you know, it sounds like it would be very rare, but actually these psychogenic disorders are the second most common reason for people to see a neurologist. The most common reason is migraine, and then you have these functional or psychogenic disorders, so it's actually very common. But there's so much stigma, even within the medical profession that a lot of these people just aren't responding to treatment, and they really you know, we really need them to be able to.

The importance of having psychological strength

David Robson: And like you said, you know, also with mental health, there are these kind of nocebo effects. I think one of the problems maybe with catastrophizing our feelings that we're experiencing, so even momentary you know, periods of anxiety, [00:13:00] not kind of when anxiety becomes debilitating, that's a whole other matter.

But if you start catastrophizing any kind of wobble in your mood, you know that can exacerbate the symptoms and it can also produce unhealthy behaviours. So it can encourage something like avoidance if you, you're told that anxiety is bad, you avoid any situation that might make you feel anxious and you know that actually makes you less resilient. If you never have any challenges to face that cause you to confront your anxieties, you're just not going to build up that psychological strength that you'll need to deal with them in the future. So you start retreating further and further into your comfort zone and your horizons become much narrower, much smaller.

So yeah, I think these are conversations we need to have where you respect people's mental health, you give them the support that they need, but you also don't create kind of bigger demons by the way that you talk about these issues. You actually try to emphasize people's psychological resilience and their capacity to, to cope rather than making the whole world seem a lot [00:14:00] scarier.

The anatomy of stress

David Elikwu: And I think one thing that has definitely helped me, and I think could probably help people to understand and appreciate where these things come from, and with anxiety is probably a good example where, the biological profile of, you know, if you had an MRI scan of someone that was on a roller coaster and someone that was about to do public speaking, they would look exactly the same because physiologically there's no difference between anxiety and excitement. Like your body is processing the same thing, what's different is the story that's in your head. And through that, you then process it differently and then your body adds some different hormones to that. So then suddenly you might add some stress and suddenly maybe you feel nauseous or you might feel something else in addition to just the, the general brain activity.

And like, part of that is because and I think this has been useful for me is just appreciating, I guess, allostasis in general and the idea that your brain is, you know, we talked about it predicting things. It's really just recruiting your body functions based on the energy it thinks you need to deal with a particular situation. So [00:15:00] let's say, social situations are a good example of this because social situations are unpredictable, reading a book might also be a good example or going to the gym. If your brain thinks it's about to do something hard. It's looking at your metabolic situation and it's trying to create some allostasis. Like, you know, how much energy do I have to deal with this, this situation? If I don't have a lot, or if it seems like it's going to be very unpredictable and I can't manage how much energy I'm going to need, then that's where you start to freak out and maybe you start to feel a lot more anxious about that thing.

And it's, it's because of that rather than, and I think knowing that at least helps me to make that distinction between the actual thing, like, Oh, making sure I go to the gym and my brain just reacting to, or feeling like something is hard, but it's, it's hard because my brain is learning to cope with that thing.

Understanding stress management

David Robson: Yeah, that's exactly it. Like appraisal is so important in shaping our responses to different events and often it is as simple as you know, reconsidering whether it's anxiety or excitement or whether [00:16:00] your frustration is a sign that you can't do something or whether it's a sign actually you're just learning like maybe frustration is just the emotion that accompanies moments of growth, essentially.

And yeah, so there's just tons of evidence looking at this, and I think, like, our society hasn't helped because, you know, we've been told that, like, stress and feeling stressed is really bad for us, it's inherently dangerous that we have to avoid it, but actually, we often hear about the fight or flight response as if that's the only way you can deal with stress. But we would be ineffective human beings if the stress response wasn't really finely calibrated. So it's much more like a spectrum.

If you're really in danger, like the fight or flight response makes total sense to, you know, flee a predator. But actually, you know, in the ancestral situation, if you're hunting, you don't need to kind of respond in such an extreme way.

Today, you know, if you're giving a talk, you don't need to respond that way. You can feel a little bit stressed, which can be beneficial. It can keep you on your [00:17:00] toes, it can make sure that you're focused, it can stop you being kind of too drowsy or boring in front of your audience. But it also doesn't have to mean that you're going into this kind of full blown panic attack.

And so just educating people that stress can be beneficial, that it's useful for growth, that the physiological symptoms that you feel, you know, the racing heart, sweaty palms, then they're all actually signs of this positive process that's happening. You know, you're pumping that oxygen to your brain to fuel your thinking. You know, just educating people about that has been proven to have such a beneficial effect on the way people cope with these challenges. So if you're looking at students who are taking difficult exams, who previously would falter pieces when they had like a maths exam, for example, you teach them about the benefits of stress and they just perform much better.

And then you look at their physiology and you can see that actually, their stress response has been a bit more muted. So it's, they're not panicking. They're not totally relaxed, obviously, but they're in that kind of [00:18:00] optimal state in the middle.

And that's what I love about the expectation effect is that, you know, again, there's no deception is involved here. You're actually just teaching people quite unquestionable biological facts and that, that knowledge is powerful.

Stress management strategies

David Elikwu: Yes, exactly. And I loved what you said about stress. It just reminded me of, I think it's the Yerkes-Dodson Curve where essentially the TLDR is that a little bit of stress is actually a good thing, like a little bit of stress actually makes you more alert and prepares you to take on activities. And then suddenly you get to the tip of the curve and you come down the other side, and then actually it's too much stress, too much stress to handle. And actually, sorry, as part of that, if you have not enough stress, that's also bad as well. Like not enough stress is boredom and suddenly you're, you're bored, you're not being excited enough to deal with things.

Is there anything else that we could do to take advantage of this or to make it work in our favor? I know we've talked about some of the negative examples. One study that came to my mind, it might have also been Alia Crum but I don't remember. I think they got, [00:19:00] all of the housekeepers that worked in a hotel and they made half of them watch a video that tells them, Hey, you know, this work that you do, it might seem stressful, but actually you're doing a lot of exercise. You're burning a lot of calories. And then they tracked the weight of all of the housekeeping staff over the course of like a month or so, and the people that got the education that doing the work that they do just naturally as part of their day is actually good for you and helps you to, it's enough exercise.

I think it was part of the, however many minutes of exercise you're supposed to get in a week. So I think the information was that actually doing this job helps you meet the criteria that the government has said for how much exercise you need to do in a week. And all of them lost weight after, you know, when you come back and look at them after a month or so, because they believe that, Hey, this work that I do every day, they don't have to change anything else about their lives. But just knowing that this work that I do is actually good exercise suddenly has some robust impact.

Finding fitness in everyday chores

David Robson: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's one of my favourite studies. And you know, yeah, because it was, they saw a bit of weight loss, but [00:20:00] even more importantly, I think they saw changes in their blood pressure. So it went down from being kind of a problematic level to being kind of within the healthy range.

And again, it was just changing their interpretation of their work from something that seemed like, I mean, I don't want to speak for these cleaners, but I think they were interpreting it as something kind of boring you know, drudgery, something they didn't really appreciate. Like, it was good to get the bill or to pay the bills, but it wasn't something that they saw as being important for their kind of personal lives and their health.

And Alia just told them the facts you know, it's absolutely scientifically correct that actually, you know, doing the hoovering, moving the furniture, cleaning the bathrooms, you know, it all takes a lot of calories when you're doing it day after day for a full working shift. And it easily meets the criteria for, you know, the Surgeon General's recommendations for the amount of exercise you get every week. And yeah, just that information seemed to have this physiological effect, like a kind of, you know, it is an expectation effect and [00:21:00] I'm not exaggerating here, it could actually be life saving.

And I say that because there was a follow up study that, it was a huge longitudinal study, where they looked at people's perceptions of their own physical activity, like it was asking people, do you think you do more or less than the average person? And what they found was that obviously the objective amount of exercise that people did measured by accelerometers on their, on their wrists, you know, that was a good predictor. But then on top of that, their subjective perceptions, just whether they thought they were more or less active than the average person had an independent effect on their risk of mortality over the next decade.

So that seems very profound to me, but we see that repeated multiple times, again, with people's perceptions of stress. It doesn't seem to matter how stressed they are, but if they see that stress as being good compared to being bad and dangerous, they're less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease over the next few years.

And it's just because of this mind body connection [00:22:00] and potentially being able to appraise the challenges in life in a way that produces an optimum healthy stress response rather than having that negative catastrophic stress response that's actually going to cause more wear and tear and damage to your organs.

The influence of stress on behavior

David Elikwu: Yeah. I think that's so interesting what you mentioned there, just this idea that it's not necessarily about exactly how stressed you are or, you know, let's say how much sleep you got or anything that, but more about how you interpret that. And then your body responds to your interpretation of that thing.

So I think that's really interesting. Actually, not just how like your interpretation of it, but also your interpretation of it in relation to other people as well. Cause I think you mentioned that aspect as well, where it's like, do you think that, the amount of exercise you're getting is more or less than the average person? And if you think, Oh, actually I'm healthier than average, then you can exhibit some, some behaviours that correlate with that rather than vice versa. So I think that's really interesting as well.

The damage of social comparison

David Robson: Yeah, totally. I mean, they say that social comparison is the thief of joy, but [00:23:00] actually, you know, I think it's also potentially damageing to our mental health and well being and our physical health. You can see this in people at the gym, if they look at those fitspiration, you know, images on Instagram.

If you're constantly looking at people who are like, you know, probably airbrushed and comparing yourself negatively to those people, it subsequently at the gym, it makes the exercise that you're doing feel a lot harder because you've kind of downgraded your expectations of what you can achieve. Yeah, like the kind of runner's joy at the end of the, of your workout. Like, you don't get that rush of endorphins, because you're just like, you've been so down on yourself and you've appraised all of the symptoms of exercising as being negative and signs of your lack of fitness rather than being a kind of sign of, of growth and development.

So it's, you know, really fundamentally important, I think, in all of these expectation effects, that we focus on our own trajectory, our own growth, improving day by day, rather than constantly trying to look at other people and, and finding ourselves [00:24:00] wanting in comparison.

Upcoming book: The Laws of Connection

David Elikwu: Okay, amazing. Before I let you go, and thank you for allowing me to take up so much of your time, I just wanted to ask you about your third book. So, it is The Laws of Connection.

David Robson: Yep, and it's out on the 6th of June. So, in the UK it's called The Laws of Connection, 13 Social Strategies That Will Improve Your Life.

And it's really an extension almost of the expectation effect, but in a completely different domain. So it's really looking at all of the kind of psychological barriers that we have to forming deep relationships with people and what the social psychology has shown us is often we have, you know, really kind of flawed intuitions of how good we are at keeping relationships going or even kind of striking up conversations in the first place. We assume that it's going to be super awkward to talk to someone new. We think that like, even once we've spoken to them, even if we had a good conversation with them, we tend to underestimate how much they [00:25:00] liked us. So we don't then make the effort to kind of, to meet up again in the future, because we assume they wouldn't want to. We underestimate the importance of compliments. We don't think the other person's going to value them as much. We think we might come across as, you know, a bit kind of ingratiating. We don't give enough gratitude. We don't understand how good our apologies are going to be. We kind of think that if we apologize to someone, it's probably going to be rejected. Whereas in fact, you know, the odds are in our favor that if you do give a genuine apology, the other person is going to want to rebuild that relationship.

So, you know, it really takes a few of our relationships from that first meeting all the way to like, if you have like a, a serious kind of breach or betrayal and how to get over that. And in each case, it's looking at, you know, what we can do to overcome those psychological barriers. And you know, often it's a lot easier than we would expect. And we're often just a lot better doing all of this having social connection than we think we would do.

David Elikwu: Okay. Amazing. I'm really looking forward to that. I think that's [00:26:00] definitely a book that I need personally.

The impact of social connections on health

David Elikwu: Yeah. And for a lot of people, I think, like you say, it does connect a lot to your, your previous work, because it's one of these things that we underestimate. And I think there's a lot of, studies that also show the effect that that can have on your mortality, right?

You have people, I think that have Alzheimer's or something, or also some other neurodegenerative diseases where if they don't have a lot of friends towards the end of their life, that reduces their life expectancy. If they don't have a lot of close connections that reduces your life expectancy even in general, I think, that part is generalized.

So, for all people, the more close connections that you have getting towards the end of your life can actually help you to live a little bit longer.

David Robson: Yeah, that's totally true. And like again, we underestimate how important that is. So, you know, people do recognize that social connection might be linked to health, but they would put it way below things like whether you smoke, how much you drink, diet and exercise, but actually, your level of social connection is right there at the top. You know, it's equivalent to whether or not you smoke, which is kind of incredible [00:27:00] to me.

And so, you know, in the past, like I think, this problem had been identified, but we didn't really have a lot of good advice for actually how to kind of make new friends and strengthen the connections that we do have. But over the last five years, there's been all of this social psychological research that provides very practical advice on how to do that, and that's what my book is really presenting.

David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.

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