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Jay Van Bavel

We gain so much more from working together than apart.

Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU | Author of The Power of Us (forthcoming)

Contact Jay For Booking
Jay Van Bavel | Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU | Author of The Power of Us (forthcoming)
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

One of our amazing qualities as human beings is our ability to work together—yet that doesn’t mean it always comes easily to us. In fact, many organizations today prioritize competition over cooperation in an effort to increase their bottom line. Jay Van Bavel is an NYU Professor who studies everything from group identity and team performance, to cooperation and decision-making. His work reveals the lesser-known benefits of cooperation, and in talks, he shows us how to create a cooperative culture that boosts performance and well-being. 

Jay Van Bavel is an expert on collective phenomena: our group identities, our moral values, and our political beliefs. An Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, with an affiliation at the Stern School of Business, Van Bavel’s work examines implicit bias, diversity and inclusion, group identity, team performance, cooperation, and decision-making. His award-winning research has appeared in The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American, and has been cited in both the U.S. Supreme Court and Senate. Though our individualistic society may reward selfish behavior, there are increasing benefits to cooperation that we cannot ignore. Van Bavel not only explains the science behind cooperation, he also shows us how to build cooperative cultures that improve the productivity, performance, and overall satisfaction within an organization.


Meanwhile, his forthcoming book The Power of Us will dive deeper into the science of social identity. We currently live in an age of social identity, says Van Bavel. We’re constantly performing and signalling our identity to others through our social media presence, consumer behavior, and political discourse. Yet despite being one of the biggest break-throughs in social science, little has been written about the subject from a scientific perspective. Van Bavel’s book will use a scientific lens to dispel common misconceptions about social identity, and teach us how to leverage it in a positive way, creating altruistic leaders who can meaningfully influence large groups of people.


Van Bavel was the recipient of the Golden Dozen Teaching Award at NYU, and has won several accolades for his research on how collective concerns shape the brain and behavior. He has presented his research for conferences such as TEDx and the World Science Festival; for top-tier organizations such as Uber, Amazon, and the Canadian Space Agency; and for the best Psychology Departments and Business Schools around the country, including Harvard, Columbia, and Yale. To date, he has published over 80 academic papers, writes a mentoring column for Science Magazine, and has appeared on international media such as NBC News, NPR, and Bloomberg News. Van Bavel completed his PhD at the University of Toronto.

Speech Topics

Change Management
Life After COVID Using Behavioural Science to Support the Pandemic Business Response
While pharmaecuetical intervention for the coronavirus is underway, there is currently no vaccine. Right now, the only tools we have to contain the spread are behavioral: wearing a face mask in public, adhering to physical distancing, and washing our hands often. Businesses that begin to reopen during this time need to do so wiselyor else risk disaster, ranging from a viral video mishap, to widespread sickness, or even death. So, how do leaders ensure their customers and staff follow these life-saving actions? Enter Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU. In this fascinating talk, he reveals how we can use insights from behavioral science to align individual and collective interests, thereby helping to effectively manage the pandemic.
Van Bavel considers a wide array of questions: How do people assess a threat? Is fear a useful predictor of behavior? Do emotions really affect our risk perception, and if so, how? Why do conspiracy theories, fake news, and misinformation arise? What is the driving factor behind our moral decisions? How can leaders foster trust and compliance among their teams? An expert in cooperation, Van Bavel has a wealth of science-backed information to share with audiences. From leadership and company culture, to effective communication and social norms, this talk addresses the critical questions that organizations need to know as they reopen in the age of coronavirus.
Corporate Culture
The Science of Cooperation Why Working Together Matters
We tend to regard innovation as being the product of individual genius, but the reality is that the majority of big discoveries made in the last few decades have been the result of teamwork. Managers and employees today now spend a significant portion of their time working together, and thanks to technology, collaborative activity has ballooned by fifty percent. So why are top-down hierarchical structures still the norm? And why do we continue to prize competition over collaboration? Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, studies the science behind cooperation, and why it matters. The smartest teams aren’t the ones that necessarily have the highest IQ, says Van Bavel; they’re the ones who know how to interact with each other freely, and who feel safe enough to challenge one another. This is how break-throughs are made. In this talk, Van Bavel reveals how people develop group identities and the forces that bind us together. By harnessing the power of cooperation, he explains how to create groups that are more efficient, successful, and, ultimately, happier
Confronting Unconscious Bias The Reavealing Science Behind Our Social Preferences
The human mind operates much like an iceberg: although we’re aware of a great deal of our mental life, it’s nothing compared to what’s under the surface. Much of our opinions, attitudes, and beliefs are shaped by the inner workings our unconscious mind, and have a profound impact on how we experience the world. As a professor of psychology at NYU, Jay Van Bavel examines how our preferences for certain individuals and social groups are triggered, often outside of our conscious awareness. He explains this phenomenon, known as implicit bias, using vivid examples and storytelling. How does it develop? How do scientists measure it? And what can we do (or not do) about it? With his research being cited by the U.S. Supreme court, Van Bavel is a bonafide authority on implicit bias, and his talk offers a guide for better understanding and addressing our prejudices. 
The Partisan Brain Discovering How Our Minds Create Reality

Humans fail to see the world objectively as it is. Instead, our experience is filtered through our subjective political, social, and religious beliefs. While complete objectivity is impossible, and in fact undesirable, being unable to agree on reality only helps divide us.  In this smart, urgent talk, psychology professor Jay Van Bavel considers how our brains shape our perception of reality. His cutting-edge research reveals that we’re motivated to reason in support of our initial beliefs, leaving us little room to connect or understand each other. Peppered with a series of intriguing antidotes, this talk offers a more critical way of examining ourselves, our beliefs, and our way of looking at the world.