Professor of Psychology and Affiliated Professor, Batten
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).
Keltner, D., & Haidt, J . (2003). Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 17, 297-314. read more »
Haidt, J. (2003). Elevation and the positive psychology of morality. In C. L. M. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.) Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived. Washington DC : American Psychological Association. (pp. 275-289). read more »
Haidt, J . (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review. 108, 814-834. read more »
Haidt, J. & Keltner, D. (1999). Culture and emotion: Multiple methods find new faces and a gradient of recognition. Cognition and Emotion, 13, 225-266. read more »
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