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I am a Professor in the Social Psychology area of the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. (For the current academic year I'm the Henry Kaufman visiting professor of business ethics at the NYU-Stern School of Business.) I study morality and emotion, and how they vary across cultures. I am also active in positive psychology (the scientific study of human flourishing) and study positive emotions such as moral elevation, admiration, and awe.
My research these days focuses on the moral foundations of politics, and on ways to transcend the “culture wars” by using recent discoveries in moral psychology to foster more civil forms of politics. Morality, by its very nature, makes it hard to study morality. It binds people together into teams that seek victory, not truth. It closes hearts and minds to opponents even as it makes cooperation and decency possible within groups.
To live virtuously as individuals and as societies, we must understand how our minds are built (see ch. 1 of The Happiness Hypothesis). We must find ways to overcome our natural self-righteousness (see ch. 4). We must respect and even learn from those whose morality differs from our own (see this talk or this essay on politics, or this essay on religion).
Haidt, J., & Bjorklund, F. (2008). Social intuitionists answer six questions about moral psychology. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Ed.), Moral Psychology, Volume 2: The Cognitive Science of Morality: Intuition and Diversity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (pp. 181-217). read more »
Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20, 98-116. read more »
Faith makes social groups stronger and confers an evolutionary advantage read more »
Morality binds us into ideological teams that fight each other. … It blinds us to the fact that read more »
Morality binds us into ideological teams that fight each other [and] blinds us to the fact that read more »
How does morality bind people together even as it blinds them to the truth? read more »
We are all self-righteous hypocrites read more »
We agree only about how much is at stake in our arguments: everything. read more »
Jonathan Haidt is occupying Wall Street. Sort of. read more »
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