Jonathan Haidt Professor of Ethical Leadership

New York University’s Stern School of Business


Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who studies how and why human beings evolved to be moral. Morality, Haidt asserts, is not about truth, but about binding people together into teams that can be successful. While it makes cooperation possible within the group, morality can often cause us to treat others outside the group in harmful ways. As he puts it, “Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.” Haidt is well known for his Moral Foundations Theory, which posits that there are six underlying moral drives in all human cultures. These are care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. Haidt believes that understanding the evolved structure of the human brain is the only way to live virtuously as individuals and societies, because such knowledge allows us to counteract our built-in biases and cooperate with people who have different beliefs from our own.

The Righteous Mind
The Happiness Hypothesis

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