The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

by Dacher Keltner
     
 

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Leading scientists and science writers reflect on the life-changing, perspective-changing, new science of human goodness.
In these pages you will hear from Steven Pinker, who asks, “Why is there peace?”; Robert Sapolsky, who examines violence among primates; Paul Ekman, who talks with the Dalai Lama about global compassion; Daniel Goleman, who proposes

Overview

Leading scientists and science writers reflect on the life-changing, perspective-changing, new science of human goodness.
In these pages you will hear from Steven Pinker, who asks, “Why is there peace?”; Robert Sapolsky, who examines violence among primates; Paul Ekman, who talks with the Dalai Lama about global compassion; Daniel Goleman, who proposes “constructive anger”; and many others. Led by renowned psychologist Dacher Keltner, the Greater Good Science Center, based at the University of California in Berkeley, has been at the forefront of the positive psychology movement, making discoveries about how and why people do good. Four times a year the center publishes its findings with essays on forgiveness, moral inspiration, and everyday ethics in Greater Good magazine. The best of these writings are collected here for the first time.
A collection of personal stories and empirical research, The Compassionate Instinct will make you think not only about what it means to be happy and fulfilled but also about what it means to lead an ethical and compassionate life.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“[T]his collection stimulates serious reflection.”
Library Journal
Keltner (research director & cofounder, Greater Good Science Ctr., Univ. of California-Berkeley; Born To Be Good) and editors of Greater Good magazine Jason Marsh and Jeremy Adam Smith compile 35 short articles from the publication, beginning with scientific roots, taking up interpersonal relationships, and ending with society and politics. The short, accessible essays—with no references or bibliography—underscore empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness, trust, and apology. Contributors include Jonathan Haidt, Alfie Kohn, Daniel Goleman, Meredith Maran, Steven Pinker, and Desmond Tutu. While encouraging, this collection is not Pollyannaish: experiments reveal the noxious effects of increased power, the ease with which people slip into bully and victim roles, and the difficulty of empathizing with strangers or with masses suffering as opposed to the grief of individuals. Dave Grossman's findings on soldiers' reluctance to kill, training methods used to bypass conscience, and the increase of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans make a startling, important, optimistic statement about compassion. VERDICT A readable digest of current work in positive psychology for a general audience.—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393337280
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
01/04/2010
Pages:
316
Sales rank:
250,486
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Dacher Keltner is Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught social psychology for the past 21 years and is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Letters and Sciences. His research focuses on the prosocial emotions (such as love, sympathy, and gratitude), morality, and power. Other awards include the Western Psychological Association’s award for outstanding contribution to research, the Positive Psychology Prize for excellence in research, and the Distinguished Mentoring Award at UC Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In 2008, the Utne Reader listed Dacher as one of the 50 visionaries changing the world.

Jason Marsh is an editor of Greater Good magazine. He lives in Berkeley, CA.

Jeremy Adam Smith is the senior editor of Greater Good magazine and the author of The Daddy Shift. He lives in San Francisco.

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