top of page
The Righteous Mind

society & culture


The Righteous Mind

Jonathan Haidt

What is the book about?

The book The Righteous Mind (2012) is about understanding the moral psychology of different cultures and political ideologies. Jonathan Haidt argues that our moral judgments are based on intuition and emotion rather than conscious reasoning, and that exploring this can help us bridge political divides and find common ground.

Who should read the book?

This book is a perfect read for individuals that are interested in psychology, moral philosophy, and politics, and want to gain a deeper understanding of how these fields intersect to shape our beliefs and actions. The Righteous Mind is especially recommended for open-minded readers who seek to challenge their own assumptions and broaden their perspectives.

About the Author:

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist known for his research on morality, political psychology, and the psychology of religion. He is a professor of ethical leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business and a visiting professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. He is also the co-founder of the Heterodox Academy, an organization that promotes viewpoint diversity in academia. Haidt has been recognized for his contributions with numerous awards and has given several TED talks.

Book Summary

Three Key Ideas - find more in our App!

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt is a thought-provoking and insightful book that explores the complexities of human morality and why we disagree so vehemently about what is right and wrong. In this book, you'll discover a fascinating new way of understanding human nature and the forces that shape our beliefs and values. You'll be taken on a journey through the evolution of morality and learn why some people tend to be more conservative while others are more liberal. You'll also gain a deeper understanding of the role that emotions play in shaping our moral beliefs and how these beliefs are often driven by our need to belong to a group. Most importantly, this book will challenge you to rethink your own moral beliefs and consider the perspectives of those who hold different views. Whether you're interested in politics, psychology, or just want to better understand the complexities of human nature, The Righteous Mind is a must-read that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the richness and diversity of the human experience.

Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second

Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. This key idea explores how we make decisions and how we justify them. According to Haidt, our intuitions and emotions play a more significant role in our decision-making than we realize. We often use strategic reasoning to justify our decisions rather than to make them.

Haidt argues that our minds are divided into two parts: the intuitive and the rational. The intuitive part is responsible for our quick, automatic, and emotional responses, while the rational part is responsible for our slower, more deliberate, and logical responses. He explains that these two parts of our mind are often in conflict with each other, and our intuitive responses usually win out.

Haidt gives several examples to illustrate this point. One example he gives is the famous trolley problem. In this scenario, a trolley is hurtling towards five people who are tied to the tracks. You have the option to divert the trolley onto another track where only one person is tied up. Most people would choose to divert the trolley, sacrificing the one life to save five. However, when the scenario is changed slightly, and you have to push someone onto the tracks to stop the trolley, most people would not do it. This shows that our intuitions and emotions play a more significant role in our decision-making than we realize.

Haidt also explains why we use strategic reasoning to justify our decisions rather than to make them. He argues that we are social creatures who want to belong to a group. We often make decisions that align with our group's values and then use strategic reasoning to justify them. This is because we want to remain in good standing with our group and avoid being ostracized.

In conclusion, this key idea highlights the importance of understanding our intuitions and emotions in our decision-making process. It also emphasizes that we often use strategic reasoning to justify our decisions rather than to make them, which can lead to a lack of understanding and empathy towards those who hold different opinions.

We are 90% chimp and 10% bee

Jonathan Haidt argues that humans can be categorized into two main components, the chimp nature and the bee nature. The chimp nature represents the selfish and individualistic side of us, while the bee nature represents the social and cooperative side. Haidt suggests that our individualistic nature dominates our social nature, but the 10% bee nature is what has allowed us to create civilizations and live in large societies. To further explain this concept, Haidt uses the metaphor of a rider on an elephant, where the rider represents our conscious mind and the elephant represents our unconscious mind. The elephant or our chimp nature ultimately determines our behavior, while the rider or our bee nature may think they are in control. Haidt provides evidence for this concept through various studies and examples, such as the tendency of people to help others when in a good mood and humans' natural inclination to form groups and tribes. Understanding that we are 90% chimp and 10% bee is crucial in comprehending human behavior and morality.

bottom of page