The Power of Us
Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony
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.
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.