The Righteous Mind:

Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

A New York Times Bestseller

Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens?

In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong.

Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals.

He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally group-oriented. It is this need for society, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations.

In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.

Editorial Reviews

“A landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself…Haidt is looking for more than victory. He’s looking for wisdom. That’s what makes The Righteous Mind well worth reading.” 

New York Times Book Review

“An eye-opening and deceptively ambitious best seller…undoubtedly one of the most talked-about books of the year.”

Wall Street Journal

“Splendidly written, sophisticated and stimulating. It may well change how you think and talk about politics, religion, and human nature.”

NPR

“Ingenious prose…Beautifully written, Haidt’s book shines a new and creative light on moral psychology and presents a provocative message.”

Science

“Haidt’s work feels particularly relevant now…Haidt’s perspective can help us better understand our own political and religious leanings.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Highly readable, highly insightful…The principal posture in which one envisions him is that of a scrappy, voluble, discerning patriot standing between the warring factions in American politics urging each to see the other’s viewpoint, to stop demonizing, bashing, clobbering…Haidt’s real contribution, in my judgment, is inviting us all to sit at the table.”

Washington Times

“Excellent…An impressive book that should be read by anyone who has the slightest interest in how political opinions are reached.”

Daily Beast

Author Biography

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York Univerisity’s Stern School of Business. He earned his PhD in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, and taught at the University of Virginia for sixteen years. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and the coeditor of Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well Lived. He lives in New York City.

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Reader Biography

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York Univerisity’s Stern School of Business. He earned his PhD in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, and taught at the University of Virginia for sixteen years. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and the coeditor of Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well Lived. He lives in New York City.

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