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Jay Van Bavel is an Associate Professor of Psychology & Neural Science at New York University, an affiliate at the Stern School of Business in Management and Organizations, and Director of the Social Identity & Morality Lab. He is the co-author of The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony. Prior to joining NYU, Jay completed his PhD at the University of Toronto and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Ohio State University.


From neurons to social networks, Jay’s research examines how collective concerns—group identities, moral values, and political beliefs—shape the mind, brain, and behavior. His work addresses issues of group identity, social motivation, cooperation, implicit bias, moral judgment, decision-making, and social media. He studies these issues using a combination of neuroimaging, lesion patients, social cognitive tasks, economic tasks, cross-cultural surveys, and computational social science.


Jay has published over 100 academic publications and co-authors a mentoring column, called Letters to Young Scientists, for Science Magazine. He has written about his research for the New York Times, BBC, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and the Washington Post and his work has appeared in academic papers as well as in the US Supreme Court and Senate. His research was also featured in TEDx and TED-Ed videos and he has consulted with the White House, United Nations, European Union, and World Health Organization on issues related to his research.


Jay has given talks at dozens of the Psychology Departments and Business Schools, as well as academic conferences, professional events, and non-academic organizations (including the World Science Festival). He received the NYU Golden Dozen Teaching Award for teaching courses on Social Psychology, Social Neuroscience, Attitudes and Evaluation, Intergroup Relations, Group Identity, Moral Psychology, Professional Development, and Introduction to Psychology.

His research has received several awards, including the Young Investigator Award for distinguished contributions in social neuroscience from the Society for Social Neuroscience, the Young Scholars Award for outstanding achievements in social and personality psychology from the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology, the Janet T. Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science, the F.J. McGuigan Early Career Investigator Prize from the American Psychological Foundation, the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize and the SPSP Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize.

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Van Bavel, J. J., Rathje, S., Harris, E., Robertson, C., & Sternisko, A. (in press). How social media shapes polarization. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. [PDF]

*Rathje, S., Van Bavel, J. J., & van der Linden, S. (2021). Out-group animosity drives engagement on social media. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [PDF]


Gollwitzer, A., *Martel, C., *Brady, W. J., Parnamets, P., Freedman, I. G., Knowles, E. D., & Van Bavel, J.J. (2020). Partisan differences in physical distancing are linked to health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Human Behavior, 4, 1186-1197. [PDF]


Finkel, E. J., Bail, C. A., Cikara, M., Ditto, P. H., IIyengar, S., Klar, S., Mason, L., McGrath, M. C., Nyhan, B., Rand, D., Skitka, L., Tucker, J. A., Van Bavel, J.J., Wang, C. S. & Druckman, J. N. (2020). Political sectarianism in America: A poisonous cocktail of othering, aversion, and moralization. Science. [PDF]


Van Bavel, J.J.,, Baicker, K., Boggio, P. S., Capraro, V., Cichocka, A., Cikara, M., Crockett, M. J., Crum, A. J., Douglas, K. M., Druckman, J. N. Drury, J., Dube, O., Ellemers, N., Finkel, E. J., Fowler, J. H., Gelfand, M., Han, S., Haslam, S. A., Jetten, J., Kitayama, S., Mobbs, D., Napper, L. E., Packer, D. J., Pennycook, G., Peters, E., Petty, R. E., Rand, D. G., Reicher, S. D., Schnall, S., Shariff, A., Skitka, L. J., Smith, S. S., Sunstein, C. R., Tabri, N., Tucker, J. A., van der Linden, S., Van Lange, P. A. M., Weeden, K. A., Wohl, M. J. A., Zaki, J., Zion, S. & Willer, R. (2020). Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nature Human Behaviour. [PDF]

Van Bavel, J.J. & Pereira, A. (2018). The partisan brain: An identity-based model of political belief. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 22, 213-224. [PDF]


Brady, W.J., Wills, J.A., Jost, J.T., Tucker, J.A., & Van Bavel, J.J. (2017). Emotion shapes the diffusion of moralized content in social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1-6. [PDF]


Dikker, S., Wan, L., Davidesco, I., Kaggen, L., Oostrik, M., McClintock, J., Rowland, J., Van Bavel, J.J., Ding, M., & Poeppel, D. (2017). Brain-to-brain synchrony tracks real-world dynamic group interactions in the classroom. Current Biology, 27, 1375-1380. [PDF]


Van Bavel, J.J., FeldmanHall, O., & Mende-Siedlecki, P. (2015). The neuroscience of moral cognition: From dual process to dynamic systems. Current Opinion in Psychology, 6, 167-172. [PDF]


Cikara, M., & Van Bavel, J.J. (2014). The neuroscience of intergroup relations: An integrative review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 245-274. [PDF]

Van Bavel, J.J., Packer, D.J., & Cunningham, W.A. (2008). The neural substrates of in-group bias: A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation. Psychological Science, 19, 1131-1139. [PDF]


Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony

The Power of Us compellingly debunks many of the myths that have arisen not only around social identity research but also around social psychology as a whole. Of these, the most enduring are those that paint groups as inevitable sites for corruption of self and loss of reason. The triumph of this book is how it shows that this framing is not only wholly wrong but also dangerously misleading…if we are to have functional and resilient organizations, institutions, and societies, we must understand and draw from the power of collective mind.”

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