What job does ritual get done?
David DeSteno is a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Emotions Group. At the broadest level, his work examines the mechanisms of the mind that shape vice and virtue. Studying hypocrisy and compassion, pride and punishment, cheating and trust, his work continually reveals that human moral behavior is much more variable than most would predict.
David is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, for which he serves as editor-in-chief of the journal Emotion. His work has been repeatedly funded by the National Science Foundation and has been regularly featured in the media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's Radiolab and Talk of the Nation, and USA Today.
He is the author of The Truth About Trust and co-author of The Wall Street Journal spotlight psychology bestseller Out of Character. He has written about his research for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Harvard Business Review, Pacific Standard, Mother Jones, and The Atlantic.
David received his Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University.
A conversation between Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman and Dr. David DeSteno about how religious rituals are designed to help us find relief, connection and solace.
In the time of COVID-19 and physical distancing, how can we maintain our personal and spiritual connections?
How does empathy differ from compassion? What are the best strategies we should employ to influence one another to be more caring?
There often is tension between our religious beliefs and our religious identities — between our religious teachings that tell us to be compassionate to all people, and the way religious groups can create an “us” and “them” mentality. But “who we are” is very much “what we do.”