Awkward: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome

Awkward: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome

by Ty Tashiro
Awkward: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome

Awkward: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome

by Ty Tashiro


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In the vein of Quiet and The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth comes this illuminating look at what it means to be awkward—and how the same traits that make us socially anxious and cause embarrassing faux pas also provide the seeds for extraordinary success.

As humans, we all need to belong. While modern social life can make even the best of us feel gawky, for roughly one in five of us, navigating its challenges is consistently overwhelming—an ongoing maze without an exit. Often unable to grasp social cues or master the skills and grace necessary for smooth interaction, we feel out of sync with those around us. Though individuals may recognize their awkward disposition, they rarely understand why they are like this—which makes it hard for them to know how to adjust their behavior.

Psychologist and interpersonal relationship expert Ty Tashiro knows what it’s like to be awkward. Growing up, he could do math in his head and memorize the earned run averages of every National League starting pitcher. But he couldn’t pour liquids without spilling and habitually forgot to bring his glove to Little League games. In Awkward, he unpacks decades of research into human intelligence, neuroscience, personality, and sociology to help us better understand this widely shared trait. He explores its nature vs. nurture origins, considers how the awkward view the world, and delivers a welcome counterintuitive message: the same characteristics that make people socially clumsy can be harnessed to produce remarkable achievements.

Interweaving the latest research with personal tales and real world examples, Awkward offers reassurance and provides valuable insights into how we can embrace our personal quirks and unique talents to harness our awesome potential—and more comfortably navigate our complex world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062429162
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 364,082
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Ty Tashiro, PhD, is the author of The Science of Happily Ever After. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post,,, and on NPR and SiriusXM Stars radio. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota, has been an award-winning professor at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, and has addressed TED@NYC, Harvard Business School, MIT’s Media Lab, and the American Psychological Association. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Part I So This is Awkward

1 What Does It Mean to Be Awkward? 3

Our Fundamental Need to Belong 8

We All Have Awkward Moments 13

Squares, Geeks, and Nerds 17

Seeing the World Through Awkward Eyes 19

2 Is There Anything Wrong With Being Awkward? 25

Strange and Intense 30

Is Awkwardness on the Spectrum? 32

Extroverted, Confident, and Totally Awkward 39

Dreaming of Social Fluency 42

3 Looking for Some Sweet Skills 46

This is Your Brain on Awkwardness 49

Get a Cue 52

Can You Really "See it in their Eyes"? 54

How Did My Foot Get in My Mouth? 57

When Minds Meander 62

4 Emotions Make Me Feel Funny 66

Can We Just Skip the Emotional Parts? 70

An Intense World of Emotion5 72

The Function of Feeling Awkward 76

Broadening A Narrow Focus 80

Why Are You Making that Face? 85

5 Unlocking the Minds of Likable People 88

Theory of an Awkward Mind 91

A Theory of Being Likable 94

The Surprising Social Skill of Bullies 99

The Devil is in the Details 102

The Value of Social Equity 105

Part II This is Getting Awkward

How Modern Societal Shifts are Making Everyone Feel more Awkward

6 Nurturing Awkward Children 113

The Nature of Awkward Families 117

Awkward Impulses Versus Social Expectations 122

The Pleasure in Being Awkward 125

A Supercharged Superego 128

Helping Awkward Kids Build Social Fundamentals 133

Bake a Second Batch 137

7 The Awkwardness of Making Friends 142

How Many Friends are Enough? 144

The Demise of Social Institutions 149

Never Mind My P's and Q's 155

Making Friends While Awkward 157

Trickle-Down Social Economics 164

8 Dating and Sex Are So Awkward 166

What Happened to the "Romantic" in Romantic Relationships? 168

Gerrymandering the Friend Zone 170

Online Dating Can be an Awkwardness Incubator 173

Sex is Super-Awkward 177

Intimately Awkward 182

The Awkward Path to Happily Ever After 187

Part III How the Awkward Become Awesome

9 Practically Prodigious 193

When Awkwardness is Adaptive 194

Giftedness is Singular, Not Plural 197

A Restless Mind 201

The Relationship Between Giftedness and Awkwardness 204

Being True to Yourself and Fitting in 213

10 Groundbreaking Innovation 217

The Future Perfect 219

The Comfort of Expertise 220

Winning the Innovation Lottery 222

Imperfect Brilliance 228

Afterword 233

Acknowledgments 239

Bibliography 241

Index 251

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