Ep 1. Jonathan Haidt

By Toby Shannan

Our Guest

Jonathan Haidt is an American social psychologist, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. Haidt's main scientific contributions come from the psychological field of moral foundations theory. The theory attempts to explain the evolutionary origins of human moral reasoning on the basis of innate, gut feelings rather than logical reason. Haidt’s work in moral psychology speaks to how we make and rationalize our decisions - and even more interestingly in these times - Haidt’s work is full of virology. A way of paraphrasing his work is -

‘we are tribal people and we are often but not always afraid of one another - but - we are more often but not always afraid of the unseen pathogens that pass between us - in fact our gut reactions that get gussied up as morality are Haidt argues ‘evolved responses to viruses and disease’

There is no better time for us to acquaint ourselves with these important ideas.

Haidt frequently tops lists that include "top global thinkers". He is among the most cited researchers in political and moral psychology, and is considered among the top most influential living psychologists. His influence stems in part from two books. The first: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012) examines how morality is shaped by emotion and intuition more than by reasoning, and why differing political groups have different notions of right and wrong. And the second: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (2018), co-written with Greg Lukianoff, explores the rising political polarization and changing culture on college campuses, and its effects on mental health.

In addition Haidt has founded a number of organizations Heterodox Academy work’s to increase intellectual diversity at universities, OpenMind is a psychology-based platform designed to foster intellectual humility and empathy, by equipping people with the essential cognitive skills and shared language to overcome their differences and work together to solve problems, and Ethical Systems, which utilizes the best research on systems thinking, psychology, and behavioral economics to improve the culture of organizations.

This last org - Ethical Systems is in deep collaboration with Shopify. Support is using Ethical Systems to score, monitor and improve its culture through understanding and rolling out scientifically based best practices as well as engaging in social science research on what makes great teams.