Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Jay Van Bavel
For Better or Worse:
The Role of Social Identity in the Pandemic
Abstract: We are in the midst of one of the greatest global health crises in the past century. In the absence of a vaccine, the major public health response has required massive collective behavior change—especially at the national level. In this talk, I will present several recent studies on the role of social identity in the coronavirus pandemic. I will illustrate how social identity can both facilitate and impair collective action. These studies will draw on the movement of millions of cell phones tracking human mobility in the US during the early stages of the pandemic as well as an international sample of health intentions in 67 countries. Together, these studies clarify how social identity might be leveraged effectively for global public health.
Jay Van Bavel is an associate professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, an affiliate at the Stern School of Business in Management and Organizations, and Director of the Social Identity and Morality Lab. He completed his PhD at the University of Toronto and a postdoctoral fellowship at The Ohio State University before joining the faculty at NYU in 2010. 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, as well as an Introduction to Psychology.
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. This work addresses issues of group identity, social motivation, cooperation, implicit bias, moral judgment and decision-making, and group regulation from a social neuroscience perspective. His research team studies these issues using a social neuroscience approach, that incorporates neuroimaging, lesion patients, social cognitive tasks, cross-cultural surveys, and linguistic analysis of social media posts.