Haidt Returns to Grounds to Talk Psychology, Politics and the Culture Wars

March 16, 2012 — University of Virginia professor Jonathan Haidt has made headlines nationally with his recent work examining psychology and the culture wars. He returns this week from a visiting professorship to discuss his findings in two appearances at the University.

Haidt – a psychology professor in the College of Arts & Sciences – will discuss his new book, "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion," on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at U.Va.'s Miller Center.

On Tuesday, he will join New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks to discuss the role of moral psychology in America's culture wars, at noon in Garrett Hall's Great Hall, sponsored by U.Va.'s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

At the Batten School event, "Morality and Politics: The Challenge of Public Policymaking in Righteous Times." Haidt and Brooks will tackle questions at the intersection of psychology, politics and public policy, questions like "Why do liberals and conservatives talk past one another?" and "How does morality bind people together even as it blinds them to the truth?"

Brooks became a New York Times op-ed columnist in September 2003. He has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and he is currently a commentator on "The PBS Newshour." He is the author of "Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There" and "On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense," both published by Simon & Schuster. His most recent book is “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement,” published last year by Random House.

Haidt studies morality and emotion, and how they vary across cultures. He is also active in positive psychology (the scientific study of human flourishing) and studies positive emotions such as moral elevation, admiration and awe. His current research 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. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992.

Haidt is currently on leave from the University serving as a visiting professor at New York University.

— By Brevy Cannon