I am an Associate Professor in the Social Psychology area of the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. 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.
Jonathan Haidt: I was born in New York City but grew up in Scarsdale, New York, in the suburb north of New York City. It shaped me in that I was a nice, normal suburban kid, sent to an Ivy League school, immersed in the normal sorts of things that get one into a certain intellectual class, where there is very, very little moral diversity, and that is very important for who I became.
Recorded on: May 9, 2008