Thursday, March 22, 2018
The human mind is finely tuned for tribal conflict. America’s founders knew this and designed a system that would reduce the damage done by factionalism. We had a great run. But now a variety of social, technological, and intellectual trends are amplifying our tribal tendencies, with alarming implications for the future. Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist at the New York University, will use moral psychology to analyze recent trends in politics, and in university life and recommend reforms that might help adapt our universities and our politics to an age of polarization and perpetual outrage.
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist whose research focuses on morality—its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation.
Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He received his B. A. from Yale University in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. After post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India, he was a professor at the University of Virginia from 1995 until 2011, when he joined the Stern School of Business.
He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations Theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org. He uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of people with whom they disagree. He won three teaching awards from the University of Virginia and one from the governor of Virginia. His four TED talks—on political psychology, on religion, on the causes of America’s political polarization, and on how America can heal after the bitter 2016 election—have been viewed more than 6 million times.
Haidt was named a “top 100 global thinker” in 2012 by Foreign Policy magazine, and one of the 65 “World Thinkers of 2013” by Prospect magazine. He is the author of more than 90 academic articles and two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and The New York Times bestseller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.
Professor Haidt's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the President's Leadership Fund.
Photo credit: Philip Howard