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

Forthcoming Book

Emotional Success is as inspiring as it is practical. DeSteno shows us how to use our feelings of gratitude, compassion, and authentic pride to improve our lives—and the world. – Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive and The Sleep Revolution

Are high achievers simply blessed with more willpower than the rest of us? DeSteno’s provocative argument is that the science of success is, in fact, very much the science of social emotions like gratitude and compassion. I, for one, am convinced! – Angela Duckworth, author of Grit

One of the leading psychologists of our time has discovered the keys to success: our emotions. They give us strength, they help us stick to our goals, they make us better friends and better people. DeSteno shows how gratitude, compassion, and—surprisingly—pride are essential to the good life. Emotional Success is a beautifully written and very important book. – Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale University and author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion

If you think the key to self-control is overriding your emotions, think again. Moral emotions can strengthen your willpower—and this fascinating book uses the latest social science to explain how. – Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg

 

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