What mechanisms underlie human virtue and how can we use science to nudge them?

David DeSteno studies the ways in which emotions guide decisions and behaviors fundamental to social living. By examining moral and economic behaviors such as compassion and trust, cooperation and resilience, and dishonesty and prejudice, his work tries to illuminate how emotions can optimize our actions in favor of the greater good or, by virtue of bugs in the system, lead to suboptimal or biased outcomes. His research continually shows that human character is highly influenced by forces outside awareness and is much more variable than we tend to think. Recognizing how those forces actually operate guides his efforts to work with public and private sector partners to design scalable nudges to enhance well-being.
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Contact David  |  Curriculum Vitae  |  Northeastern University Page

Latest Book

Smart, fun, and informative, The Truth About Trust describes the most frightening, most wonderful, and most human thing we do: putting our fates in someone else's hands. This one's worth reading. Trust me. – Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard and bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

The Truth About Trust tackles some of the most important and challenging issues in life. Psychologist David DeSteno takes a fresh look at fundamental questions, from gauging the trustworthiness of others to whether you can trust yourself. – Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take

Trusting others puts us at risk. Yet failure to trust entails risk as well. The ability to navigate through this minefield successfully is one of life's most valuable assets. DeSteno provides by far the best account of what science has learned about how we do this. The Truth About Trust is also a terrific read. — Robert H. Frank, Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management at Cornell and bestselling author of The Economic Naturalist and The Darwin Economy

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