Jonathan Haidt: “The Righteous Mind” | Talks at Google


>>Male Presenter: Glad to see you all here
today. A few months ago I got into the car and turn on NPR and the program that was on
the air immediately captured my full attention. The guest was commenting about how we’ve gotten
to a point where America’s different ideological factions could no longer even understand each
other at all, let alone work together constructively for the common good. He pointed out that while
it maybe convenient for us to look at our opponents as evil or stupid, they’re not evil
or stupid, they believe in making a better world, just like we do. The guest was Jonathan
Haidt who’s here to talk to us at Google today. He mentioned to me that he’s sick of talking
about politics, so he’s not going to be talking about that subject. Instead he’s going to
talk about the group dynamics and psychology that make effective organizations like Google
function as well as they do. He’s been a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia
for 16 years. In the summer, he moved to NYU where he’s starting a program to study complex
social systems. He’s the author of “The Happiness–>>Jonathan Haidt: Hypothesis>>Male Presenter: Hypothesis” and>>Jonathan: Righteous Mind>>Male Presenter: “The Righteous Mind” which
opened up at number 6 on the New York Times bestseller list. By the way, the book is for
sale over in the corner here, Nadine from Books, Inc. has the book for $10, which is
heavily subsidized courtesy of Google. So grab a copy and get it autographed at the
end. Now, fresh from an interview with Michael Krasny on Forum, please welcome Dr. Jonathan
Haidt. [Applause]>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Thanks so much, David.
So, Hive Psychology, bees. That’s kind of creepy and gross. Why would I come here and
give you guys a lecture about hives and bees? Well, as David mentioned, my last book was
“The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom” and I reviewed great
ideas from across cultures, across the eras and evaluated them in terms of what we now
know in modern psychology. And chapter 10 reviewed ideas about happiness, where it comes
from. And how really, the deepest forms of happiness come from between, from getting
the right kinds of connection and embeddedness. There wasn’t that much research to review,
just a lot of claims from people long dead, but the way I summarized it was “Mystical
experience is an off button for the self. When the self is turned off, people become
just a cell in a larger body, a bee in a larger hive.” And I reviewed religious experiences,
all kinds of awe experiences and I’ve long been an awe junkie myself. I would do almost
anything to get experiences of awe. So, I really was kind of proud of this sentence.
I thought, “Oh great, this is one of the things that I care most about”. But there wasn’t
much more to say about it. Well, I went on to then write this new book “The Righteous
Mind” and in the interim, there has been a little bit of research around this and thinking
about morality and where it comes from helped me think through this hivishness, this groupishness,
that is one of the most important facts and features of human nature. So, this is the cover of my book in the United
States, where the slash, I think, perfectly captures what it feels like to be an American
these days, something is torn, something is ripped, something is wrong. In the UK, they
have a different cover which I think works just as well as in the United States. It looks
like that. [laughter] Now the book is, in a sense, very simple,
in that it’s really just about 3 ideas. If you get these 3 ideas, you get moral psychology.
So the three ideas are first: intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second, that’s
what my early research was on. And if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell and Blink, and know
about all the research on implicit cognition, you’re familiar with some of that work. The second part is on the principle that there
is more to morality than harm and fairness. This is about how liberals and conservatives
build their moral worlds on different sets of moral foundations. This is what every newspaper
and radio station that interviews me wants to talk about because of the election year
and as David said, I’m sick and tired of talking about it. And I’d much rather talk to you
about hivishness and awe. So that comes out of part 3 of the book, mortality binds and
blinds. That’s where it comes from. It comes in part from this novel ability we humans
have, to be bound together into teams that are not kin. That can work together towards
higher goals. And one particular chapter is on hive psychology and I thought it’d be fun
since I’m here talking to one of the most novel and interesting companies in the world,
to talk about hive psychology and let’s see in our discussion afterwards how well these
ideas apply to what you experience here at Google. So, perhaps the most over-rated or over-hyped
idea in the social sciences in the last 70 years has been the idea that people are basically
selfish. That our fundamental nature is selfish. Economists have told us that for decades.
Political scientists have told us that people vote for their self-interest. Evolutionists,
such as Richard Dawkins told us about selfish genes. Which, they can make us cooperate with
our kin in cases of reciprocity. But by and large as Dawkins said, “let us try to teach
generosity and altruism because we are born selfish.” George Williams, one of the greatest
evolutionary biologists, said it even more bluntly. “Morality is an accidental capability
produced, in its boundless stupidity, by a biological process that is normally opposed
to the expression of such a capability.” So the view is, human nature is selfish. We can
transcend it, we can act in ways that go against our fundamental nature, but our fundamental
nature is selfish. Now, this view has been widely embraced in
business schools and the business community and it’s been embraced even more strongly
by people who hate business. Here’s an essay that was published in The New York Times last
week, “Capitalists and Other Psychopaths”. It reported, down at the bottom you can see
it reported when it came out in paper it said “2010 study found that 10% of a sample of
corporate managers met a clinical threshold for being labeled ‘psychopaths'”. I read that
and I said “that’s nonsense, it can’t possibly be true”. And I was right, the guy just made
up that number. The actual study that he was quoting said 4% which is even still probably
too high. But the point is that there’s a narrative out there about business which is
that it is a bunch of psychopaths and that explains why businesses act the way they act.
It’s because of that narrative, that long standing narrative which I suppose goes back
to the 19th century that Google, of course, came up with its identity, its brand. Which
is “Don’t be evil”, but then of course, people being what they are, there are many cynics
on the web who think that Google is evil. [laughter]
So, now my talk today is about how our nature is other than this. Our nature is not entirely
selfish. There’s been a kind of a little boomlet in the last 10 years or so on altruism. A
lot of people reject this idea and want to prove no people are deeply altruistic. And
there are cases like Mother Theresa, although from her biography, as I understand it, even
Mother Theresa wasn’t exactly like Mother Theresa. But there are cases of people who
devote themselves to helping others. That’s interesting but I think actually that’s not
really where the action is. If you wanna understand what’s so amazing about human beings, don’t
go looking for all the cases where we do extreme acts of altruism for strangers. Rather, what’s
really remarkable about us is our extraordinary cooperation. We’re just really cooperative,
you guys have all cooperated more than a hundred times since breakfast. It’s just when you
walk in the hallway, when you drive on the road, we are all cooperating all the time. There’s a particular kind of cooperation I’ll
focus on which I’ll call “groupishness” and I’m calling it this to be able to make a very
precise comparison to selfishness. Because when I say, as a psychologist, that we are
selfish, that our nature is in part selfish, what I mean is that the human mind contains
a variety of mental mechanisms that make us adept at promoting our own interests in competition
with our peers. Of course, we’re good at that. Of course, we evolved these complex minds
that make us selfish very often. I’m not arguing that. What I’m arguing is that’s not the whole
story. We are also groupish, by which I mean our minds contain a variety of mental mechanisms
that make us adept at promoting our group’s interests in competition with other groups.
I’m arguing that we focus too much, in the social sciences, on the competition of individual
versus individual and not enough on the competition of group versus group. Which I believe has
also shaped our mind. That’s a side story about multi-level selection, group selection
versus individual selection. We don’t need to get into that today. But that’s the background
to part of what I’m saying here. [clears throat] So, the reason I believe this, the reason
I began studying groupishness as a moral psychologist that is I’m a social psychologist, but I specialize
in the study of morality. The reason I study this is because I was studying the moral emotions,
like moral elevation and I just found there are so many ways that people have found to
shut down their selves, shut down self-interest, transcend the self. The metaphor that I’ll
use is that it’s as though there’s a staircase in our minds and there’s a kind of a door
that sometimes opens, very rarely, but most of us have had it open. There’s a kind of
door that opens, it’s as though there is kind of a secret staircase, and when this door
opens, it invites us to go up, we climb the stair case and we emerge into a different
realm. A realm in which we are fundamentally different. We transcend ourselves and it isn’t
just different, it’s ecstatic, it feels wonderful. Most of us are familiar with these experiences
in nature. Raise your hand if you have ever climbed a mountain or gone out in nature specifically
to experience some sort of an altered state of consciousness, a state of self-transcendence,
please raise your hand. OK, so right, especially here in Northern California, you kind of stumble
out to get the milk and that seems to happen to you. But anyway. Most of us are familiar
with this kind of experience. Ralph Waldo Emerson described it, I think, in the most
eloquent way that it has even been described. Just describing what it’s like to go for a
walk in the woods in New England. And I’ve had some animators animate his words, these
are from an essay from, I think, 1839 and again, it’s as though this staircase opens,
the door opens, you go up the staircase and here’s what he said about it.>>male narrator: In the woods these plantations
of God, a decorum and sanctity reign. Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the
blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent
eyeball, I am nothing, I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me.
I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: So, he had lines like
“all mean egotism vanishes” again, this self-transcendent nature of nature experiences. William James,
one of the founders of American psychology, wrote a book called “Varieties of Religious
Experience” were he cataloged all these sorts of experiences and he noted that they don’t
just make us happy; they don’t just make us feel good. They make us feel different. That
our self is fundamentally changed. People don’t come back from these experiences saying
“I can do anything. Now I’m going to make as much money as I can as quickly as I can.”
Rather, they come back experiencing a moral commitment and a desire to serve, to be part
of something larger. Many of the world’s religions have developed techniques and technologies
to foster these self-transcendent experiences. Meditation is one developed especially in
most of the eastern religions. Many of the world’s religions discovered psychedelic drugs.
Substances that can, within 30 minutes, attain the kind of self-transcendence that takes
years of study through meditation to achieve. This is from a sixteenth century scroll showing
a mushroom eater about to consume a mushroom. And as soon as he eats it, this god is going
to yank him up the staircase into the other world. We don’t know much about the Aztec’s
religion and to what degree it was a moral transformation. But in the ’60s there was
a great deal of interest in psychedelic drugs, there was research on it. A famous study by Walter Pahnke, in conjunction
with Timothy Leary, gave psilocybin or niacin pills. It was a placebo controlled study.
They gave the pills to divinity students in a basement in a chapel at Boston University.
And all 10 of the students who took psilocybin had religious experiences and those who took
niacin, they first felt a flush, you feel like something is happening, they were really
psyched. They said “Yes, I’m one of those who got the pill.” But it was just niacin
and that quickly faded and nothing else happened. So the subjects who got psilocybin experienced
profound transformations, as one of them put it “feelings of connectedness with everybody
and everything”. So again, these many many roots of self-transcendence
which have a morally transformative effect, this is what I’m interested in. Many of the
world’s religions use circling, rhythmic movements to create an altered state in which one gets
closer to God. And if you put this all together, you put chemicals that alter the brain with
movement that also triggers ancient circuits, what you get is a rave. It was discovered
in the 1980s that if you put ecstasy and certain kinds of music together you can achieve certain
altered states of consciousness and it’s not just a celebration of hedonism. Its peace,
love, unity and respect. Again, unity, it’s a sense of oneness, togetherness, transcending
the self. And here’s the weirdest place of all, which is war. War is hell of course,
but many journalists, when they serve with the men and women down in the trenches, they
find that actually war unites people like nothing else. And it gives warriors experiences
that they cherish for the rest of their lives. There’s an extraordinary book by Glenn Gray
who served in the American Army in World War II, and D-Day and came back and wrote a book.
He wrote a book in which he interviewed many other veterans and he describes the experience
of communal effort in battle. Once again, I’ve had this animated, I hope we can keep
the volume louder this time, here it goes.>>male narrator: Many veterans will admit
that the experience of communal effort in battle has been the high point of their lives.
I passes insensibly into a we, my becomes our and individual fate lose its central importance.
I believe that it is nothing less than the assurance of immortality that makes self-sacrifice
at these moments so relatively easy. “I may fall, but I do not die. For that which is
real in me goes forward and lives on in the comrades for whom I gave up my life”>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: “I” passes insensibly
into “we”, “my” becomes “our” and individual fate lose its central importance. If bees
could speak, I think this is the sort of thing that they would say. So it’s because of these
experiences, they are so ubiquitous; you find them all over the world, across the eons.
It’s as though we were designed to be able to lose ourselves. At very least there’s something
in our minds that makes it easy to do so. This is what led me to formulate what I called
the hive psychology hypothesis. It’s a hypothesis, but my claim is that human nature, alright
this parts a metaphor, not a hypothesis. Human nature is 90% chimp, 10% bee. That’s the metaphor.
The idea is that most of our sociality is strategic or selfish. When you read books
on human nature or evolution where they invariably compare to other animals and the author will
trace out kin selection, reciprocal altruism. So we’re able to cooperate as other animals
are but it’s ultimately for our own benefit. Just like chimpanzees, but we have the ability
to forget our self-interest and lose ourselves in something larger than ourselves, like bees.
My claim here is that we are like bees, in part because we went through a parallel process
of evolution as bees did. Namely a long period of group versus group competition. Which chimps
didn’t really go through, or our primate ancestors didn’t go through. But group selected species
do. So, we’re very good in situations that call
for every man for himself. This is a photo of a tomato fight in Spain, everybody throws
tomatoes at everybody. But, I would note, they had to actually all get together and
agree on the rules, get a permit you know they’re all having fun. So actually even this
isn’t every man for himself. But, we’re good at it, we can do that. But we are especially
good at one for all, all for one. Alright, how does that happen? Well, let’s look at
sociality, let’s step back and look at what forms sociality takes in the animal kingdom.
Many many animals are social. Darwin wrote about this and noted that it’s often adaptive
to hang out with others, not because they work together as a team but because the odds
are that you won’t be the slowest out of the thousand deer. And so when the lion comes,
it will be your neighbor that gets eaten, and not you. So, deer are like this, they
live in herds and these herds are not cooperative at all. It’s just safety in numbers, there’s
no team work. So this does not provide a good metaphor for anything in the corporate world.
I don’t think there are any corporations that are herds. Alright, but let’s move up a little bit. A
lot of animals live in packs. Now packs are very different. Packs, you especially find
them among carnivores because teamwork lets them take down larger prey. Four wolves working
together can take down a much larger animal. But, a wolf pack is a rough place to be, there’s
constant competition for status and resources. Well, now it’s beginning to sound more familiar.
So familiar in fact that many textbooks of organizational behavior specifically feature
wolves. And we train our MBA students to be effective wolves. Most MBA companies can be
analogized to wolf packs. Teamwork lets them take down larger prey. They can do things
they could not do as individuals but there’s constant competition for status and resources.
So that works, that works throughout most of the business world. Raise your hand if the description I’ve just
given you describes what it’s like to work at Google. OK, I thought not. Of course, if
you did raise your hand I’m sure there are cameras everywhere and who knows what would
happen to you. [laughter] But, for you, I think you would resonate more towards the
third alternative which is hives. Only a few kinds of species live in hives, it’s only
been discovered a few times in the evolution of life on earth. A few dozen times actually.
The Hymenoptera were the main discoverers of this way of living. The bees, wasps and
ants and they are able to live in gigantic colonies with massive division of labor, and
they are able to do it because they are all sisters. They suppress breeding, so they’re
really all in the same boat, all in the same hive. It’s one for all, all for one. There
was a species of cockroach that discovered this form of living and their bodies morphed
into those that we now call termites. And there’s one species of mammal that did, the
naked mole rat. In all five of these cases, it’s the same trick. Suppress breeding, so
that you have just one queen who lays all the eggs or gives birth to all the babies
and now everybody’s interest, their biological interest is one for all, all for one. Keep
the queen alive, keep the babies alive. And so they’re able to cooperate, massively build
gigantic nests, thousands of times larger than any individual. It’s really quite extraordinary
what they can do, but it’s not hard to explain because it’s straight kinship. Now, once you get hive living, you can get
this amazing division of labor and you can the group functioning as a super organism.
This is an image of giant Asian honey bees that do this behavior. And what scientists
have figured out is that they do this when there is a wasp, a larger predatory insect,
there’s a wasp trying to get in. Trying to attack them, to get in, trying to get the
honey. So, they’re able to flick their tails and their bodies in unison, in a pattern that
basically flicks the wasp off. It’s an amazing feat of coordination possible because they
live in this way, one for all, all for one. And these emergent behaviors have evolved,
quite extraordinary. This yields massive efficiency; you have massive division of labor and trust.
Is this an analogy or even a homology for anything in the corporate world? Are there
any businesses that work this way? Well, there’s no business that has no competition, in which
people are truly perfect hive members, where there’s no politics, no competition. But there
are many businesses that come close. I’ve visited a couple times at zappos.com
and they pride themselves in being like this, and my sense is that they really are. If you
put Zappos into Google image search, this was one of the first images that came up when
I did this. And it is them forming this symbol of one for all, all for one and when they
do this love to spin around like those bees. So, some companies, I think, are like this.
Now, I want to tell you about this little bit of research that has been done on hive
psychology recently. It’s been discovered that synchronous movement, moving together,
seems to change our minds, chance our physiology in ways that make us extra good hive members.
So, many religions use synchronous movement well. Scott Wiltermuth and Chip Heath at the
Stanford Business School, brought people into the lab, had them basically sing a drinking
song. They didn’t actually give them alcohol but they had them wave mugs around while singing
‘O Canada’. They wanted a song that people wouldn’t have any particular emotional attachment
to. [Audience laughter]>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: They had them sing
‘O Canada’ while listening on headphones to the song so that they could either be singing
or moving in unison or not quite in unison. And then they had them play various games
and dilemmas to see how well they could cooperate. And after moving together in synchrony, they
were better able, they could go further in these games that required extreme cooperation.
Something that has very direct relevance to any sort of collective effort, certainly in
the business world. Moving together in time increases cooperation and trust. Another study found that when you take rowers,
college level rowers and you have them row either in synchrony or not in synchrony, they
did it in a rowing tank so they could measure exactly how much force was being applied.
They actually were able to deliver the same amount of force, but then when they gave them
the pain tolerance test afterwards. Those that had rowed in synchrony were able to withstand
more pain. In other words, it changes the endorphin system which would be adaptive if
this is a reflex for battle. Groups that move together in time can fight together better,
they can trust each other better. So we’re changing some relatively low level aspects
of brain chemistry that would prepare individuals to be a part of a team in combat.
Now in case you want any evidence that this can be used in the corporate world, Japanese
companies have long used synchronous movement in the morning to bind the group together.
The Japanese corporate structure is very much based on a hive model, a family model, not
so much competition within the group, but fiercely competitive across companies. Synchrony
has been used in the business world for exactly this purpose. And actually, how many people
have ever done any sort of like team building exercise or corporate retreat where they had
you move in synchrony, is this commonly done? OK, ya it is often used, it’s not studied
very much so we need to do better research to find out if it really works. But I suspect
that it does. So, here’s one dramatic example of how, again,
how it’s just people [unintelligible] this is the All Blacks, New Zealand, one of the
premiere rugby teams. The All Blacks. [Sportscaster narrative]>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Watch their poor opponents
in the end. [crowd cheers][rugby players chant the Haka]
>>Jonathan Haidt: So it’s fun, it feels good and there are reasons to believe that it actually
works to bind teams together more closely. So I want to make the point now that while
a corporation is always a super organism. In fact, the legal definition of a corporation,
going back to eighteenth century Dutch and British law, is a group of people united into
one body. The word corporation literally means body. So Mitt Romney is not entirely wrong
when he says corporations are people, although of course, it they are people they are a certain
kind of person that does not have much in the way of moral sentiments in and of itself.
But we won’t go there. Alright, so, a corporation is always a super
organism, it is a kind of emergent entity. But I want to make it clear, I’m not saying
that they are hives, most are not. Very few are hives. There’s a dimension of hivishness
and even within the same industry. So, here are some companies just from my limited experience
in the business world around or rather just teaching courses to people in the business
world. I hear from the students that some companies are very much hivish; these are
places where they really feel one for all, all for one. I asked David on the way in,
whether this is really true about Google, what I’ve heard. Oh absolutely, right away
from my first day here it was clear that I could call up somebody if I needed help and
no matter how busy he was, he would just help me. Even though there was nothing in it for
him, it wasn’t his project. But everyone just has this sense that you know, you help, you
do what’s needed. You do whatever another fellow employee needs. So like those bees,
you function as an organism, division of labor, but you’re all in it together. So here are some companies that are known
for not quite being that way. So competition even, of course Amazon bought Zappos and people
at Zappos were concerned that their corporate cultures would be very different. But so far
it seems as though Amazon has respected their very, very different culture at Zappos. So, I think that there are some obvious benefits
of hivishness, just on its face now, I just signed on at the Business School at NYU, so
I haven’t done the front line research on this directly but there are reasons to think
that hivishness is going to have these two major, major benefits. The first is almost,
by definition, higher social capital. Social capital is an important concept from sociology,
popularized in the 1990s. It refers to the trust that is found in relationships. So if
two companies have, if one company has more financial capital than another, but everything
else is equal, more money in the bank is going to let them beat out the other company. Similarly,
if two companies are identical and identical in financial capital, but one has more social
capital, that is, people can do as David said you need help, you ask for it, you get it.
There’s no backstabbing or there’s no turf guarding, that’s social capital. If everything
else is equal, that company is going to beat out the other company. They’re more efficient. So hivishness by definition is going to give
you higher social capital, which should generally translate into higher productivity and flexibility.
Management can make changes and assume that people will trust them, go along with it,
not fight over well, should we change. You’re a team, you’re like one body. When I say move
to the left, my right hand doesn’t say “wait a second, what’s in it for me?” Secondly,
hivishness is going to give you employee morale. It’s just a lot more fun to work in a place
where everybody likes and trusts each other and works as a team. So you get lower turnover.
Turnover is extremely expensive for companies. And when people are fired, or when they leave
for any reason, they’re much less likely to sue if it’s a hivish organization, were there
was much more trust. It makes it much easier to recruit, and once people are here, it makes
it harder to lure them away. So hivishness has obvious benefits for companies. Now it also surely has downsides and it depends
how you do it, so I’m not standing here saying “Oh, every company should become more hivish.”
I have no idea if that’s true. But I do want to introduce these terms. I think it’s helpful
for people in the business world to think about. So possible risks or downsides are
at a certain point you spend so much time playing drinking games and charades and other
things that they do in some of these hivish companies. Billiards, what else do I see here
Ping-Pong, scooters, pogo sticks. At a certain point you spend so much time that it will
lower productivity. Secondly, if you have that really hivish feeling of love of the
group, that could become sort of toxic for outsiders. You could no longer care about
other stake holders, other people outside the company. Of course, if you have more group
loyalty then there might be more pressure to cover up misdeeds, it would be harder to
be a whistle blower, perhaps. And lastly you could have more group think if everybody is
sort of on the same wave length and people are emphasizing their similarity. On the other
hand, at least what I heard at Zappos, and what I’ve also heard from a student of mine,
Jesse Kluver who is a Marine, is that when you have a really hivish group, there is such
trust and everybody values the mission that actually, often what you have is it’s easier
to speak up because everyone trusts that you’re not grandstanding, you really have the interest
of the group at heart. So, it’s an open question when hivishness will have a profile of benefits
and when it will have costs. Now, some advice on what one can do if you
have an organization, this is not just true in the corporate world, this is any organization
any non-profit a soccer team, anything. Well, some of the basic ideas from classic social
psychology are that when people have a sense of shared fate, and especially a sense of
shared sacrifice. We’re all pulling together; we’re all in the same boat. That really brings
out the bee in us; it really brings out the cooperator in us. It’s very important in any
organization to suppress free riders if there’s a sense, because in such an organization there’s
so much freedom. Anybody who wanted to could stock up on all these snacks and go sell them
on the street corner if you wanted to. And anybody who did that would be violating the
group’s trust. Any organization that lets free riders do such things then suddenly activates
more negative psychology in everybody else, people don’t feel that they can trust each
other. So free riders are really poisonous. It’s crucial that free riders be punished
and punished quickly. But punishment doesn’t have to involve spanking or firing or anything
else. Gossip is the normal human form of punishment. Gossip is actually, generally speaking a good
thing, especially in a hivish organization. Gossip gets a bad name because in junior high
school people tend to use it to destroy their rivals. So that’s ugly. But, what’s been found,
a study by Naft and Wilson, looked at gossip on a crew team. And when you have a group
working together like that, most of the gossip was actually who’s shirking, who’s not working
out hard enough. When people really care about the mission of the group they tend to gossip
in way that’s will shame and punish those who are drifting off and sort of pull them
back in. So gossip is the front line of defense for a healthy organization. Third, heightened similarity, anything that
makes you feel like you are all one will help this feeling. So of course many companies
emphasize diversity. It’s important to emphasize diversity for justice reasons and diversity
especially of perspectives, has many benefits for creativity. But I want to emphasize that
to get trust and cohesion, you don’t want to tell everyone oh, we’re all so different
and that’s great, you want to say we’re all the same. And when you do that race stops
mattering because so many other things link you together. So, just think about emphasizing
similarity not diversity. Fourth point, synchrony moving together to
the extent possible, has been shown to have these effects. Healthy competition is good.
When you divide people into groups, they tend to trust the people in their group more and
interestingly, they don’t dislike the people in the other group. So, are there any intramural
competitions here? Is there any time where you do group versus group or division versus
division here at Google? Do you ever do that? I assume you don’t then hate the people on
the other team? It’s playful, it’s fun. You get to work together more closely. So this
is the classic social psych finding, in-group love is not purchased at the cost of out-group
hate. Unless the competition gets really nasty, and then it gets viciously tribal and that’s
where we are in the US Congress. But within a healthy company that’s not what happens. Lastly, to the extent that you can say your
company is pursuing a noble mission, it’s much easier to inspire people. So at Zappos,
for example, they don’t talk about selling shoes, they talk about their mission is delivering
happiness. They’re a service company. And Google is organizing the world’s information.
Google is making our lives easier. Google is doing all these wonderful things. So, to
the extent that one is thinking about the culture of one’s team or organization, these
are some pointers for how to make it more hivish and cooperative. There are some specific
things that leaders can do, behaving in particular with integrity and charisma. A leader must
be worth of respect, admiration and perhaps even awe. Not necessarily but these things
do help. Great leaders, such as Julius Caesar, inspired their men because their followers
could trust them. They looked up to them. One of the most important things about being
a leader or a boss is that people are willing to cede you authority and to follow you as
long as they trust that you really are out for the good of the group. As soon as they
get the sense that you’re a self-aggrandizer, that you’re out for yourself or you’ve got
your favorites and you’re out for your faction and not going to help the other members of
team, then they’ll turn against you very, very quickly. So an important part of leadership is impartiality,
fairness, people really have to trust you, that you’re really impartial. And then they
will accept decisions from you that work against their self-interest. Self-sacrifice is crucial,
that leaders sacrifice when times are tough. I was at a, there was a positive psychology
conference, a month after 9/11 and corporate CEO got up and said to this room of 300 psychologists
“We, the business community, we are on the front line in the fight against terror.” Which
seems to me to be incredibly pompous when we are sending troops over to Afghanistan
to actually fight and face bullets, but anyway. So, “we CEOs are on the front line of the
fight against terror, and we need ideas from you as to what we can do and how we can win
this fight” So I stood up and I said “Well, we’ve just gone through the 90s when CEO pay
skyrocketed as profits were going up. Now the economies turned and 9/11’s pushed us
down further, profits are dropping, pay is dropping. So, I would think if CEOs would
take a massive cut in pay on the way down, that would inspire more cooperation and help
you win the fight against terror.” [Audience laughs]>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: He says “That isn’t
helpful, any other suggestions?” [laughter] So anyway, shared sacrifice. And lastly eloquence, history books are full
of times when a battle turned or the history of the world turned on one person giving an
inspiring and eloquent speech that rallied others to work or fight their hardest. So to conclude, we have this story about human
beings being fundamentally selfish. And certainly businesses and business people being fundamentally
selfish and while I think there is a little bit of truth to this, this story does work
in some corners of the business world. And right now we’re all trying to figure out whether
the finance business, the finance industry is different from the rest of the corporate
world where they actually make things that are of use to people. Finance does seem to
be plagued by many more problems than other areas of the business world. But I’d like
to replace this idea of human nature with this idea: that we are both selfish and cooperative,
we are selfish and groupish, and I think this is not just a more inspiring of what we are
but I think it’s actually a true vision. Thank you very much. [Applause]>>Male Presenter: We have time for questions,
so if you’re interested come up to the microphone and ask away.>>male #1: So you’ve made some pretty compelling
arguments about the benefits of hivishness and the human propensity for hivishness. And
given those benefits, it seems reasonable that people would have this psychological
propensity. But we all know that evolution is not a teleological mechanism that seeks
long term global optimization->>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Not at all.>>male #1: -and in fact you cited the fact
that a lot of the insects have to adopt these very strange genetic patterns into their hives
in order to make it evolutionarily stable strategy for them to behave that way. You
said at the beginning you didn’t really want to dive into the whole issue about individual
versus group selectionism, but I just have one sort of top-level question->>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Sure.
>>male #1: -which is, do you think it’s necessary to invoke group selectionism to explain the
human propensity for hivish behavior?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Well yes, a great question.
Is it necessary to invoke group selection? I think it’s not necessary. There are some
very clever explanations as to why we’re so groupish, that rely on individual level selection.
That is individuals who could show off that they were good team players would be rewarded
and trusted more and therefore they would benefit. But part of the reason why I’m attracted
to ideas about multi-level selection that is: human nature was shaped in part by group
versus group competition, is that there’s all this weird stuff we do that’s very hard
to explain as something that will redound to my personal benefit. For example, after
9/11 there was sort of the ‘rally around the flag’ effect. And it’s kind of hard to explain
that people who rally around the flag and had this urge to support the leader that they
beat out the other ones who had less of that urge. A better example I think would be the
urge to kill traitors and apostates. So what you do with it. A traitor is worse than an
enemy, in many religious books and in many societies. A traitor, there’s only thing you
have to do with a traitor, you have to kill them. Now, do we suppose this urge to kill traitors
came about because long ago individuals who killed their traitorous neighbors had more
children than individuals who hung back and didn’t kill their traitorous neighbors? There’s
just a lot of really tribal groupish stuff, initiation rites, a lot of weird stuff we
do that makes perfect sense if you think that our genes came down to us in part by being
lodged in successful groups. It’s being currently fought out, nobody has a knock down argument
but I think the total picture of human nature is more consilient with group selection than
with individual selection.>>male #2: You mentioned searching out and
destroying traitors just now and that kind of gets at what I was going to ask. What about
when the hive sort of goes off track and I was sitting there thinking a little about
like Salem witch trials. You mentioned bullies in school, what happens when you have a mob?
A hive turns into a mob?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Right, right. So I take
an ecological view of human evolution. That is if you think about a total ecosystem and
there’s lots of niches then there all these creatures in the niches. Most of those creatures
are individual animals but some of them are groups. So if we think about religion, so
in my book I developed at great lengths ideas from David Sloan Wilson and others. That religion
is an adaptation for binding groups together for intergroup conflict. That means that religion
in its original tribal form is very much about getting people to trust each other, develop
virtues that will help maximize their productivity and especially make them more fit, or at least
wipe out or, at least, out compete neighboring groups. Not a very pretty picture. And in
many parts of the world, as the new atheists love to document, religions look sort of that
way. But in the American ecosystem, things are very, very different. In America, we’ve
had a free market in religion since the beginning. And especially for Protestants who shift around
quite a lot, between sects. So they all have to be good at marketing and they all have
to be appealing and if you go to a church, and I’m a Jewish atheist but I assign my students
to go to various, you know far right or far left churches. I had to do it myself. You
go in there and everyone is so welcoming, so nice wherever you go. In the American ecosystem,
nasty tribal religions don’t propagate. But nicer ones do. So in our ecology, religion
actually turns out to be a great benefit overall. So there’s a book called “American Grace”
by Putnam and Campbell where they just look at whether religions have a net benefit to
society. And they conclude that in America at least, they really, really do. So even though this stuff emerged in ways
that could have all kinds of negative externalities, depending on the ecosystem, it can actually
be quite positive. There are lots of externalities.>>female #1: Hi. So when Steven Pinker was
here, he was talking about his theory about the history of violence and it’s declining
in human society->>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: -yes->>female #1: – and he brought up this idea
of moral circles->>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: -yes->>female #1:- like that us has sort of expanded
outward in time. It used to be maybe just our family, then just our tribe then our nation
and then the groups get bigger and bigger. And I’m sorry, I’m blanking on the philosopher->>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: -Peter Singer->>female #1: – Peter Singer. So how do you
think that dovetails with your idea about groupishness and hivishness?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Yes. So, groupishness.
We get more groupish when we’re attacked. And after 9/11 we got a lot more groupish,
I think everybody thought there’s going to be anti-Muslim violence and there wasn’t,
to the credit of Americans’ generally tolerant nature. But, war and intergroup conflict shrinks
the circle and makes us more competitive whereas peace and prosperity lets that sort fade away.
Also, intergroup contact trade and travel, which keep going up, thin that out. So I think
that Pinker is absolutely right, violence is declining. There are many reasons for that
and one of the reasons he cites is actually trade and commerce. Because trade and commerce makes you not care
at all what those people eat or how they have sex. Just, do they have the goods and will
they honor their contract? And this is why, to this day, Amsterdam is one of the most
tolerant places on earth. Because it was the origin of this kind of new modern global trade.
So, I think Pinker is right and as the internet has helped us see more interact with people
more globally, it is thinning this stuff out. The other piece of the story that Pinker mentions
is strengthening institutions. This groupishness, this hivishness, works well to structure groups
when there is no police forces, no courts but as you get stronger institutions, you
can weaken this tribalism, this hivishness. And the Scandinavian countries are the forefront
in world history of having effective civil institutions and ever decreasing groupishness.
So it’s possible to have a very humane society without it. But, people need groups, people
thrive in groups and so it remains to be seen whether you can healthier or less healthy
forms in America.>>male #3: There’s been some research that
suggests that there’s sort of an inbuilt limit in the number of other primates that we can
consider part of our group. Dunbar’s Number? Do you think there’s a similar limit for how
large we can find our hive to be?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Right, that’s a good
question. So the Dunbar Number is one hundred fifty, there’s not been any firm research
on it but the basic idea is that there’s a certain number of people that we can know
personally. But not just know personally, because you can know a thousand people personally,
but know how everybody is connected to everybody else. And once you get above one hundred and
fifty, that’s very hard. So that’s kind of a natural break point for human groups. But one of the cool things about human social
cognition is that it’s recursive. So there’s this Arab proverb: “Me against my brother,
me and my brother against our cousin, me and my brother and cousin against the stranger.”
And, the US military uses this beautifully. There’s competition at every level. Everybody
is competing with everybody. But within the lowest level, you know they’ll compete within
a patrol; they’ll then cooperate to compete against the next patrol and all the way up
until the Marines are competing against the Navy. And then of course in war, the whole US Military
is competing against another military organization. So, there is no limit to how high we can go
as long as there’s someone on the other side. So there will never be a human hive until
either we’re attacked by Mars or we get serious and declare war on those goddamn mosquitoes. [Laughter]>>Male #4: I’m interested in the same topic,
the scale at which this groupishness can operate. I just joined Google a few weeks ago and I’d
be surprised if I knew somebody in this room. And so you showed slides of people moving
together, so I wonder if I signed up for like an aerobics class here at Google, but I didn’t
happen to know anybody else in the class and after I was done and I came back to my group,
is that gonna foster groupishness? In me, or do I have to actually know the people I’m
moving with?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Thank you, that is exactly
the experiment I would like to run, I will credit you when I run it, that is something
that we need to do. But my hypothesis would be, that if you simply exercise with people
that you don’t know and don’t see again, that would be enough to foster or facilitate your
integration into this company. So it should work at that very minimal level. Secondly, if you do at least recognize the
people that you’re moving with and then you see them in some other context, or at a party,
you would be able to strike up a conversation more easily. And third, if you took one division
of Google and sort of encouraged it, you can’t force people or you’ll get reactance, but
you encourage one division to do a lot of this stuff and another one to not do it. My
prediction would be that you would see a measurable bump up, depends on the outcome measure, but
for certain tasks that require trust and ability to work together, you would see it. So that’s the hypothesis, we don’t know yet
whether it’s true.>>Male#5: Hi, thanks for coming. I sort of
have two questions, about intention and consciously doing, consciously acting. So both when you’re
looking at sort of selfish actions or groupish actions. How much does it matter whether those
are, you’re trying to be selfish or trying to be groupish versus it just being the subconscious?
Like, does that even come into play?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Right.>>Male#6: And sort of semi-relatedly for groups
or hives, what is intention? Previous question about when the hive starts to drift away,
you know, that’s sort of the hives will is sort of drifting. You were talking about a
leader sort of having a role in sort of defining the direction of a group. How much is sort
of emergent, no one’s really trying to apply a direction versus how much is really just
an individual applying their own will.>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: OK, thank you. That’s
given us two good questions. So the first, I deliberately said 90% chimp 10% bee, not
50/50. Because we are very, very concerned with our self-interests and especially our
reputation. So a lot of cooperation is for show. A lot of cooperation is because people
are watching. And if there’s no monitoring and you’re relying only on people’s team spirit
and they can get away with anything they want, research shows that most people tend to cheat
more than they even realize that they are doing. So some of it is for show and a well
set up organization is one in which people will do good and get credit for it. To the
reputation you want, to harness reputational concerns as much as you can. As for the extent to which a leader is making
it happen versus letting it happening organically, I think a good metaphor is gardening or maybe
more like forestry. You can manage an ecosystem, but it’s very hard to just create one from
scratch. You have to let it grow to some extent. And this to the extent that I’m very interested
in liberal and conservative ideas. I am dispositionally a liberal, I think there are problems, we
can solve them. But I’ve been very persuaded by conservative critiques that say that liberal
efforts to just come in and impose a new system tend to fail. And I think the way to think about social
engineering is more like ecosystem management. If you come in and say well, we’re going to
have a whole new way of supporting children or marriage or anything and you put something
new in place, you get all kinds of invasive species as it were. You get all kinds of things
you didn’t expect. But yet you can still influence Yellowstone Park, you just can’t raze it to
the ground and plant it from scratch. So I think a good leader is someone who is a little
modest about what can be done but sort of tries to get organic processes growing and
then you can still direct them to some extent. Where are we on time? Oh, it’s been almost
an hour; I guess we have time for one or two more questions? We’ve got 5 more minutes.>>Male#7: I guess more along those lines
– Can you have a hive without a leader?>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Can you have a hive
without a leader? Yes, I think you can. Bees certainly do, there’s no leader in a beehive.
The queen is just the ovary, she’s not the leader. In a street gang or any group of friends,
yes, they can definitely be hivish, if they’re small. I think it’d be very hard to have a
large hive without a leader. [cellphone rings] And this is one difficulty I see with Occupy
Wall Street, it’s very, it’s an intensely idealistic group, very committed to horizontality.
That’s where their emphasis on horizontality, very afraid, very opposed to having leaders.
So it can happen but it makes it very, very hard for them to get anything done. I was
at a Occupy Wall Street meeting where they were trying to draft their vision statement.
And you know they had to do it by consensus, and consensus means unanimous. And it just
goes on month after month because it’s very hard to get a unanimous statement. So yes,
you can have a hive without a leader but if you want to get things done, good leadership
helps. And especially if it’s a large group, yeah, I think you have to.>>Female#2: So thank you for coming here.
Talking about leadership, I’m just reading a Steve Jobs’ biography and there is repetitive
mention of his reality distortion and how finicky he was, so I’d like to hear your views
about his leadership and the psychology you talked about.>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: So I haven’t read the
book, I don’t know much about Steve Jobs but I do want to reiterate the point – that
a company can be extremely good and extremely profitable without being a hive. And you know,
apparently Jobs was not a very nice guy. Does anybody know whether Apple was a hivish place
like Google, where there’s very little backstabbing, or politics? Does anyone know? Yeah? What
is it? No? OK. [Audience laughter]
>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: No. OK Alright, so. Their trick was incredible devotion to good
design. And that made them the most profitable, one of the most profitable companies in history.
You don’t have to be a hive to be successful. You don’t have to be a hive to change the
world. But it’s a lot nicer to work in a place where people are hivish.>>Female#2: Yeah, but how does a leadership
like that work? Where there is a lack of trust, there is a lack of you know->>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: mmm hmm. Yeah.>>Female#2: – there is a lot of favoritism.
[computer beeps]>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: Yes, that’s right. Well,
so I don’t know much. There’s a gigantic field of leadership studies – ahh, oh my computer
just shut off – but one of, it’s a vast field, I don’t know much about it. But the
terms – oh, here it is, there we are, my computer somehow knew what I wanted to show. [Audience chuckles]>>Dr. Jonathan Haidt: One of the pair of terms
is transactional leadership versus transformational leadership. Transactional leadership basically
says: let’s align interests, I want you to do X and I will pay you more to do X. So you
can have a very effective company if you align incentives and pay people for it. You’re sort
of leaving money on the table, as it were, in that people are actually willing to do
a lot of stuff, not just for pay if they get a sense of meaning and connection and happiness
from it. So it can work, and most companies, as I said
most companies are wolf packs, not hives. So think about what you’re doing and what
style is right for your organization. And there are many ways to run a successful organization. OK, I think that’s 1 o’clock. Thank you all
for your attention. [Applause]




Comments
  1. "The Selfish Gene" is very often misunderstood as saying that "humans are selfish genetically". The title is actually anthropomorphizing the gene and saying "genes are selfish" — individual genes are competing with one another and, via protein expression, construct elaborate biochemical networks and macro-molecular structures to protect themselves and ensure that they're able to self-replicate. This novel paradigm gives insight into the transition between a-biotic chemistry into self-replicating "living" chemical structures.

  2. I WISH IT WAS 2012 ALAS IT IS NOT. Sorry my caps button was stuck. I took the gummy bear that had been crushed underneath it out. Its currently according to my google calendar 2016 and times are very crazy indeed. I'm going to rejam this old gummy bear back underneath my caps button starting right NOW!

  3. New age marxist nonsense. War as a means to enlightenment? So men shooting their fellow men awakens a sense of interconnectedness and shared humanity? Seriously? This is the collectivist claptrap that has enabled Statism to kill over 100 million people in the 20th century.

    An individual destroying another life is murderer. An individual sublimating their self to a group surrenders his moral accountability on whatever fuzzy pretext the group uses to justify its collective crimes. His accountability is subsumed within group imperatives. Haidt, as a Jew, should see the threat in this – chiefly embodied by Nazi atrocities. SS soldiers were merely acting on orders and what the group determined was the righteous path. So, are they unaccountable? Perhaps their slaughter gave them a greater sense of being at one with the universe….

    The group, whether ethnic, political, or religious, is an abstract concept. The individual is a concrete reality. A group has no brain, no sensory organs, no conscience. A group cannot exist without individuals but an individual can exist without a group. Therefore the individual is of a higher moral magnitude than any group which is why democracy is a sham. Haidt is much better on his SJW campus stuff than neo-Platonism.

  4. I am part Maori and every time I see the Haka performed before a match I get the chills. so much pride for my country

  5. At about 33 min, I have to comment: gossip is nasty and totally unnecessary, and violates many ethical principles, especially the golden rule. So I would never recommend encouraging gossip as a healthy way to punish freeriders. It is much healthier to have frank open consultation where people have a fair chance to defend themselves. For instance, often introverts are seen as not team players, but when investigated can be seen to be more productive and valuable to a team than loud mouth extroverts (who no doubt also have value).

  6. It's extremely ironic this talk was given at google, given their current stance on diversity as highlighted by the recent events surrounding James Damore. Haidt wouldn't be allowed on google's campus to give this talk today. He'd be a misogynist bigot.

  7. Humanity has the exceptional ability to create a virtual reality, to synthesize a false reality in which a particular concept is believed, such as the imagined personality of a leader who is a superbeing combining the best attributes of leadership, or exemplifies the optimal strategies and methodologies for the best logical outcome. (You choose). Ie we live in a virtual reality with exaggerated threats and promised benefits for sacrificing believability and delayed gratification.

    It's not surprising that older people who have tolerated extremes of failed fantastic promises, or those left out of the rewards, deserved or not, get cynical and resentful.
    "Traitor" needs to be better defined.

    "Obviously" promoting an impossible dream for no cost to the taxpayer is treacherous and probably treasonous, but the trait of self-interest is ubiquitous. Methodology is the measure of probable success and tolerance for deliberate lies is extremely short-term at best?

  8. Our mind and body are inseparable, just as our life and environment are also inseparable and inextricably linked. So, Sufi spinning and the Maori Haka make perfect sense. The latter formally being a war cry, now used in a cultural context and in light of that what matters is the core intent of the group, especially as regards creating value. [Humanism goes out the window as soon as others are abstracted; whether it is abstracting nationalities, religions, specific professions and so on]

  9. Oh how much Google has changed, and has become an extreme SJW think-tank, for most intents and purposes. They'd never allow this talk or what Jonathan would have to say today. Very ironic.

  10. Doesn't making your "group" look better, in turn, make yourself look better? If so, doesn't "group-ish-ness", at its very core, promote "sef-ish-ness?" A cluster of individuals trying to make each other look better so as to, in reality, make yourself look better.

  11. Haidt is wrong about the need for group selection. Individual selection is more than enough, when reputations are considered: people need to convince others they are going to recipracate and play by the rules, in order to convince them to cooperate and help; and the most convincing act is an honest one. Same reason people actually feel love, instead of just simulating it.There are even mathematical models showing how cooperation leads to tribalism through individual selection.

  12. A great book on Mutual Aid as an important FACTOR in evolution.

    https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/petr-kropotkin-mutual-aid-a-factor-of-evolution

  13. Anyone here should take a quick look at the comment section under this Muller testimony. The degree to which both sides of the aisle we're absolutely vindicated by this testimony is a thing to behold.

    Dr. Haidt might find it mildly amusing.

    https://youtu.be/mNeqrTbkZmM

  14. 19:16 LMAO 24:50 – Individual Flow experienced in a Group is called Group Flow. Sufi Spinning is Full Embodiment, one of the three required precursors to Flow. See Kotler's Talk on Flow.

  15. 8 years later Google has learned nothing about those they don’t agree with. In fact, they’ve doubled down. Trash.

    Grateful for Duck Duck Go.
    Will never use Google again.

  16. Hi everyone. Could anybody please help me on how can I translate into Spanish the terms "hivishness" and "awe" in the context Dr. Haidt spoke of them?

  17. That's not at all what I got from the selfish gene. The book says exactly what it title says. namely that the gene is selfish. We aren't genes last time I checked. We're the result of the building instructions encoded in millions of genes, all in competition not with other individuals, but with other genes. That's a much saner approach and has less assumptions.

  18. This reminds me of the movie “fight club” and how he created a group in all over the world without people knowing each other personally

  19. Sadly, in this video, John Haidt gave Google the tool to become what they are in 2019…too bad psychologists don't listen or put in practice what they learn in properly taught philosophy classes as I believe Haidt would have seen what Google has become.
    I learned this stuff back in the 1980s when I worked for Red Lobster Restaurants which are owned by Kraft. This type of knowledge is used by corporations as manipulation of the lower level "bees".
    Happiness (Utopia) is a leftist ideology.
    I am presently in the middle of his book The Righteous Mind.
    I learned way back in the 1970s that Altruism is what is born from an individuality which truly follows the Golden Rule…'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' I have never believed that being groupish does not require or creates altruism.

  20. Why does it feel like the new realm I am emerging into is just another doorway; which leads to another stairway?

  21. How can an Atheist or any man, who believe in the lie they call Evolution ever lead others to become Righteous? He can't.

    The person who doesn't believe in Jesus Christ and His Gospel cannot know anything about what it is to being good.

  22. There is one way to the highest Moral Standard….that being Jesus Christ. All other paths are evil. No one has a mind that will evolve to Righteousness, apart from Jesus Christ.

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