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Jay Van Bavel on Why You Are the Architect of Your Identity

On the Passion Struck podcast, I have the pleasure of hosting Jay Van Bavel, the Director of the Social Identity & Morality Lab, Associate Professor of Psychology & Neural Science at New York University, and an affiliate at the Stern School of Business in Management and Organizations. During the episode, we delve into the insights he shares in his book “The Power of Us,” which explores the potential of shared identities to enhance performance, encourage collaboration, and facilitate social unity.

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I think a tremendous amount of money has been wasted on implicit bias training and organizations trying to rewire people’s biases. What the research shows is far more effective is changing the culture and the norms.

Jay Van Bavel

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In This Episode, Jay Van Bavel And I Discuss His Book “The Power of Us”

If you’re like most people, you probably believe that your identity never changes. But my guest today Jay Van Bavel, believes the opposite is actually true. It turns out your identity is constantly changing—often outside your conscious awareness and sometimes even against your wishes—to reflect the interests of the groups you belong to. This is why it is common for beliefs to persist after they are disproven. Understanding how identity works allow you to take control, moving beyond wondering, “Who am I?” to answer instead, “Who do I want to be?

Jay Van Bavel and his co-author Dominic Packer utilize their cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to elucidate the workings of identity in their book, The Power of Us. They provide insight into the dynamic nature of identity and offer guidance on how to harness it.

The interview with Jay Van Bavel covers the following subjects:

  • How to enhance collaboration and efficiency
  • Why do we not possess a single identity but multiple ones
  • Conquering prejudices
  • Avoiding groupthink
  • Resolving political deadlock
  • Encouraging diversity of opinions and rallying for transformation
  • How to exhibit proficient leadership
  • Stimulating initiatives to tackle enduring global issues like climate change
  • And much, much more!
  • Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected]m!
265 | You Are the Architect of Your Identity | Jay Van Bavel

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Quote by Jay Van Bavel for the Passion Struck podcast about identity

New to the show? These Starter Packs are collections of our most popular episodes grouped by topic, and we now have them also on Spotify. To find your old favorites, you can also browse starter packs for existing listeners. Every week, John interviews everyday heroes from all walks of life. Learn how to subscribe to the show and never miss a new episode and topic.

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More From My Interview With Jay Van Bavel

During our interview, I asked Jay how our intellectual humility and, on the other side of that ego, affect where people’s identities lie.

The Power of Us by Jay Van Bavel of the Passion Struck Podast recommended books.

Jay Van Bavel explains, “That’s a great question. I’m actually doing a huge project on intellectual humility with a philosopher in Australia, Mark Alfano. What we’re trying to do is first understand what intellectual humility is. What are the pieces of it? But one of the reasons I’m interested in it is to create groups that have a sense of intellectual humility.

A sense of intellectual humility means that you might have many thoughts based on evidence and knowledge. But you’re always aware that they’re probably not perfect and that you’re always open-minded to updating them based on newer and better evidence and insights. That’s how we get smarter. That’s how we become better is we accept that we don’t know at all. And we are always open-minded and ready to learn. But in a healthy way, right? We’re not open-minded to any crazy idea.

We want to be open-minded to high-quality ideas that are based on evidence and experience. A goal for mine is to become better at that become more comfortable getting constructive feedback and criticism. To not only wait for people to give you feedback. To create situations where it naturally happens.

Thanks, Jay Van Bavel

If you enjoyed this interview with Jay Van Bavel, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout on Instagram:

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And if you want us to answer your questions or you have a topic you would like John to discuss on one of our upcoming weekly Momentum Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].

Resources From The Show With Jay Van Bavel

Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Passion Struck podcast receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you so much for being so supportive!

Social Identity and Morality Lab

My solo episode on why you need to stop chasing perfection:

Want to hear my best interviews from 2022? Check out episode 233 on intentional greatness and episode 234 on intentional behavior change.

My interview with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman and Dr. Jordan Feingold on Choosing Growth and transcending self-doubt, fear, and anxiety:

My interview with NYU Stern School of Business Professor Scott Galloway on Why America is Adrift:

My solo episode on why micro choices matter:

About Today’s Guest, Jay Van Bavel

Passion Struck album cover episode 265 with Jay Van Bavel on his book the power of us

Jay Van Bavel, an Associate Professor of Psychology & Neural Science at New York University, is also affiliated with the Stern School of Business in Management and Organizations and serves as the Director of the Social Identity & Morality Lab. He co-authored the book “The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony.” Prior to his current position, Jay earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Ohio State University.

Jay’s research explores the impact of collective concerns, such as group identities, moral values, and political beliefs, on the mind, brain, and behavior. His work delves into issues of group identity, social motivation, cooperation, implicit bias, moral judgment, decision-making, and social media, utilizing neuroimaging, lesion patients, social cognitive tasks, economic tasks, cross-cultural surveys, and computational social science.

With over 100 academic publications, Jay also co-authors a mentoring column called “Letters to Young Scientists” for Science Magazine. He has written about his research for various publications, including the New York Times, BBC, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and the Washington Post. His work has been cited in academic papers and in the US Supreme Court and Senate. Jay’s research has also been featured in TEDx and TED-Ed videos. He has provided consultation services to the White House, United Nations, European Union, and World Health Organization on topics related to his research.

Jay has delivered talks at numerous Psychology Departments and Business Schools, as well as academic conferences, professional events, and non-academic organizations, including the World Science Festival. He has been honored with the NYU Golden Dozen Teaching Award for his instruction of courses such as Social Psychology, Social Neuroscience, Attitudes and Evaluation, Intergroup Relations, Group Identity, Moral Psychology, Professional Development, and Introduction to Psychology.

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John R. Miles is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Passion Struck. This full-service media company helps people live intentionally by creating best-in-class educational and entertainment content. John is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, and author named to the ComputerWorld Top 100 IT Leaders.

John is the host of the top-ranked Passion Struck Podcast. The show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of the world’s most inspiring people to learn their lessons to living intentionally. Passion Struck aspires to speak to the humanity of people in a way that makes them want to live better, be better, and impact.

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