The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

Tuesday 12 March, 2013
5 - 7pm, $0/Rsvp

NYU, The Humanities Initiative
20 Cooper Square, Floor 5

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Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at the NYU-Stern School of Business, speaks on his latest book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon/Knopf, USA, and Penguin, UK, 2011). With discussants Lawrence Mead ( Professor of Politics and Public Policy, NYU) and Eric Knowles (Assistant Professor of Psychology, NYU). See Haidt's recent NY Times article about the book, as well as a review from The Guardian.

Jonathan Haidt received his B. A. from Yale University in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. He then did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India. He was a professor at the University of Virginia from 1995 until 2011, when he joined the Stern School of Business. His research focuses on morality – its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation. This work got him involved with the field of positive psychology, in which he has been a leading researcher. He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations theory, and of the research site He uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of their enemies (see He has won three teaching awards from the University of Virginia, and one from the governor of Virginia. He has spoken twice at the TED conference—once on politics, once on religion. He was named a “top 100 global thinker” of 2012 by Foreign Policy magazine. He is the author of more than 90 academic articles and two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Lawrence M. Mead teaches public policy and American government. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Wisconsin, and a visiting fellow at Princeton and at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Professor Mead is an expert on the problems of poverty and welfare in the United States. Among academics, he was the principal exponent of work requirements in welfare, the approach that now dominates national policy. He is a leading scholar of the politics and implementation of welfare reform and also work programs for men. His many books and articles on these subjects have helped shape social policy in the United States and abroad.

Government Matters, his study of welfare reform in Wisconsin, was a co-winner of the 2005 Louis Brownlow Book Award, given by the National Academy of Public Administration. “Welfare Politics in Congress,” covering over thirty years of welfare reform hearings, was published in PS: Political Science and Politics in 2011. His most recent books are Expanding Work Programs for Poor Men and From Prophecy to Charity: How to Help the Poor, both from AEI Press. Professor Mead is currently writing a book on the bases of American primacy in the world. He plans a study of the implications of poverty for political theory.

He has consulted with federal, state, and local governments in this country and with several countries abroad. He testifies regularly to Congress on poverty, welfare, and social policy, and he often comments on these subjects in the media. He is a native of Huntington, New York, and a graduate of Amherst College. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

Eric Knowles received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. He studies how intergroup thought (the conscious and unconscious thought that people dedicate to the groups of which they are part and not part) affects our behavior and attitudes -- with a particular focus on political judgment. Examples include the extents to which White Americans' political attitudes and behavior are driven by ingroup-focused concerns (e.g., racial identity), outgroup-focused concerns (e.g., prejudice against non-Whites), or ostensibly group-neutral ideology (e.g., conservatism), as well as religious-group prejudice, interracial interaction, and the interplay of intergroup thinking and Theory of Mind. He is the author of numerous articles, including "Paying for positive group esteem: How inequity frames affect whites' responses to redistributive policies" (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology), and "Diversity is what you want it to be: How social dominance motives affect diversity construals" (Psychological Science).
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