Jonathan 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. He then did 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.
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.
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 (see CivilPolitics.org). He won three teaching awards from the University of Virginia and one from the governor of Virginia. His four TED talks have been viewed more than 6 million times. (Those talks are on political psychology, on religion, on the causes of America’s political polarization, and on how America can heal after the bitter 2016 election.)
He 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 three books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006), The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012), and The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (2018, co-authored with Greg Lukianoff). The last two books became New York Times best sellers.
At NYU-Stern, he is applying his research on moral psychology to business ethics, asking how companies can structure and run themselves in ways that will be resistant to ethical failures (see EthicalSystems.org). Haidt is also working on increasing viewpoint diversity in the academy via Heterodox Academy, a collaboration among nearly 2500 professors who are working to increase viewpoint diversity and freedom of inquiry in universities. He is also the co-developer of OpenMindPlatform.org, an educational program that teaches people and groups how to have productive conversations across many lines of difference. His next book will be Three Stories About Capitalism: The Moral Psychology of Economic Life expected in 2021, from Pantheon Press.
In addition to his work in moral psychology, Jonathan Haidt is one of the leading researchers in the field of positive psychology—the scientific study of human flourishing. His first book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, is a classic in that field. In this crowd-pleasing talk, Haidt lays out the ideas of the ancients on the causes of human happiness and then applies modern research to identify where the ancients were right, and where they went wrong. It turns out that happiness doesn’t just come from within, or from reducing attachments to the world, as many ancient philosophers advised. For modern people, happiness comes from deep attachments and engagements—with other people, with work and with something larger than themselves.
Why is America so divided and politically dysfunctional? Why are American institutions and religious organizations increasingly torn apart over “culture war” issues such as gay marriage? In this talk, Jonathan Haidt shows how the moral mind is prepared and pre-structured to bind people together into teams that then go blind to the ideas and virtues of their opponents. Haidt presents his own research, based on data from over 300,000 people, to show how liberals (progressives), conservatives and libertarians construct radically different moral “matrices”—networks of values and beliefs—that lead them to radically different views on policy and social issues. This talk can be customized to focus on A) how organizations or countries can reduce moral polarization, B) how to improve political appeals across moral matrices, or C) the unique and nearly unstudied psychology and ideology of libertarians.
Why is it so difficult to persuade people, change their minds, or otherwise get them to see things your way? Because the human mind is fundamentally intuitive, not logical. In this talk, Jonathan Haidt presents the three basic principles of moral psychology and shows how they can be used to strengthen relationships, prepare the ground for persuasion, and then persuade. Haidt offers a map of the moral mind, including his research on the six psychological foundations upon which all moral arguments must rest—care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. He teaches you not only how to persuade others, but how to see the faults and flaws in your own views, which is necessary for moral growth.
It is commonly said that good ethics is good business, but how can a leader put that advice into action—and assure shareholders that he or she is creating long-term value? Jonathan Haidt’s job as the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU Stern is to answer such questions. To do so, he became one of the founding members of the largest collaboration in the world of researchers who study ethics in organizations (visit www.EthicalSystems.org). The researchers at that site have put their minds together to offer advice on everything from ethical leadership to reducing conflicts of interest and accounting fraud. In this talk, Haidt starts by making the business case for a strong commitment to ethics, and then shows you how you can do “ethical systems design”—you can make small changes and “nudges” that will have a big impact on ethical behavior and, in the long run, on trust, cooperation and profitability.