25 Fascinating Jonathan Haidt Quotes

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist that has specialized in morality and moral emotions throughout his career. As the author of several books and Goodreads Choice Awards nomination for Best Nonfiction, here is a look at some of the most memorable Haidt quotes you will want to keep in mind.

“Anyone who values truth should stop worshipping reason.”

“Groups create supernatural beings not to explain the universe but to order their societies.”

“Happiness is not something that you can find, acquire, or achieve directly. You have to get the conditions right and then wait. Some of those conditions are within you, such as coherence among the parts and levels of your personality.”

“If you are in passionate love and want to celebrate your passion, read poetry. If your ardor has calmed and you want to understand your evolving relationship, read psychology.”

“If you grow up in a WEIRD society, you become so well educated in the ethic of autonomy that you can detect oppression and inequality even where the apparent victims see nothing wrong.”

“If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you.”


“If you want to change people’s minds, you’ve got to talk to their elephants”

“Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.”

“Letting off steam makes people angrier, not calmer. Pennebaker discovered that it’s not about steam; it’s about sense making. The people in his studies who used their writing time to vent got no benefit.”

“Life offers so many chances to use one tool instead of another, and often you can use a strength to get around a weakness.”

“Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.”

“Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.”

“Our moral thinking is much more like a politician searching for votes than a scientist searching for truth.”

“People bind themselves into political teams that share moral narratives. Once they accept a particular narrative, they become blind to alternative moral worlds.”

“People who devote their lives to studying something often come to believe that the object of their fascination is the key to understanding everything.”

“Sports is to war as pornography is to sex.”

“The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant.”

“The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human cooperation — a force for construction and destruction.”

“The rider evolved to serve to the elephant.”

“The very ritual practices that the New Atheists dismiss as costly, inefficient and irrational turn out to be a solution to one of the hardest problems humans face: cooperation without kinship.”

“Those who think money can’t buy happiness just don’t know where to shop … People would be happier and healthier if they took more time off and spent it with their family and friends, yet America has long been heading in the opposite direction.”

“Understanding the simple fact that morality differs around the world, and even within societies, is the first step toward understanding your righteous mind.”

“We should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play.”

“When a group of people make something sacred, the members of the cult lose the ability to think clearly about it. Morality binds and blinds.”

“Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses. How many of your New Year’s resolutions have been about fixing a flaw? And how many of those resolutions have you made several years in a row?”

Jonathan Haidt discusses the tyranny behind social justice warriors and the intolerance that is demonstrated.

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