Jonathan Haidt studies how — and why — we evolved to be moral. By understanding more about our moral roots, his hope is that we can learn to be civil and open-minded.

Why you should listen

Haidt is a social psychologist whose research on morality across cultures led up to his much-quoted 2008 TEDTalk on the psychological roots of the American culture war. He asks, "Can't we all disagree more constructively?" In September 2009, Jonathan Haidt spoke to the TED Blog about the moral psychology behind the healthcare debate in the United States. He's also active in the study of positive psychology and human flourishing.

At TED2012 he explored the intersection of his work on morality with his work on happiness to talk about “hive psychology” – the ability that humans have to lose themselves in groups pursuing larger projects, almost like bees in a hive. This hivish ability Is crucial, he argues, for understanding the origins of morality, politics, and religion. These are ideas that Haidt develops at greater length in his new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Learn more about his drive for a more productive and civil politics on his website And take an eye-opening quiz about your own morals at

During the bruising 2012 political season, Haidt was invited to speak at TEDxMidAtlantic on the topic of civility. He developed the metaphor of The Asteroids Club to embody how we can reach. common groun. Learn how to start your own Asteroids Club at

Watch Haidt talk about the Asteroids Club on MSNBC's The Cycle >>

Jonathan Haidt on the TED Blog
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Defusing political conflicts: A Q&A with Jonathan Haidt about how liberals and conservatives can band together

January 7, 2013

In the final days of 2012, as Congress worked to hammer out a last-minute deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, it was difficult to turn on any American news source and not see political finger-pointing. Words like “extremist,” “angry” and “sharply divided” floated in the ether. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has long been interested in […]

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Climb the staircase to self-transcendence: Jonathan Haidt at TED2012

February 29, 2012

Photo: James Duncan Davidason Author and UVA psychology professor Jonathan Haidt kicks off his TED2012 talk with a provocative question: “how many of you think of yourselves as religious?” Some people raise their hands, but not so many. Another question: “Do you think of yourselves as spiritual in any shape or form?” The majority of people […]

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