The Science of Group Cooperation

Super thought provoking, informative and relevant

Jay Van Bavel

Social Neuroscientist
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Jay Van Bavel is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science with an affiliation at the Stern School of Business in Management and Organizations at New York University where he teaches one of the largest courses in the university. 

Jay Van Bavel conducts award-winning research on how collective concerns—group identities, moral values, and political beliefs—shape the brain and behavior. He has published over 60 academic papers on implicit bias, diversity and inclusion, group identity, team formation, cooperation, motivation, and the social brain.

Jay Van Bavel has written about his research for the public in the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American. He has appeared on Through the Wormhole on the Science Channel and NBC News, been interviewed on WNYC, Bloomberg News, and NPR, and had his work profiled in international media and been cited in the US Supreme Court.

Jay has given a TEDx talk at the Skoll World Forum as well as invited talks at many of the top Psychology Departments and Business Schools in the world (Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Oxford, Stanford). He has also given featured talks at international conferences and numerous organizations (e.g., Uber, Amazon, Reed Smith, Canadian Space Agency).

Jay Van Bavel's 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, and the Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science. He is currently writing a book on the social brain.

Human beings evolved in groups, and most of us still live and work in groups every day. Our affinity for groups is wired deeply into our minds and brains. One of the most remarkable features of human nature is our ability to cooperate with people – even putting ourselves at great risk to save a complete stranger. This is why sports fans can show up to a stadium and immediately share common purpose with 100,000 complete strangers. It also explains why some groups succeed and others fail.

Drawing from original neural science research conducted in his lab at NYU, Jay Van Bavel explains the science behind group cooperation. You will learn how people develop group identities and understand the forces that bind us together. This will allow you to understand how otherwise selfish individuals can become cooperative – and even altruistic – when they identify with a group. Van Bavel will then explain how people – from CEOs to new recruits – can nudge groups towards cooperation and away from selfish behavior. This will allow your team to harness cooperation to create groups that are more efficient, successful, and, ultimately, happier.

  • Brilliant!
  • Very interesting: appreciate scientific perspective, great way to inspire cooperation
  • Great! I really enjoyed this and it made me think critically about teams, groups and cooperation
  • Made science easy to understand. Storytelling, mix of graphs and images/culturally relevant examples really helps concepts stick
  • The talk was very informative and engaging. It mixed qualitative anecdotes with quantitative evidence well
  • It was so on point. It’s exactly what some people needed to hear :) !
  • Interesting topic and refreshing break from work
  • Great, really informative and interesting research
  • Super thought provoking, informative and relevant
  • Very informative, strong presentation
  • Really great! I enjoyed learning specifics about which parts of the brain come into play when it comes to cooperation
  • Interesting and relevant to the workplace

Kavli Foundation Scientist-Writer Fellowship (2015)

APS Janet Taylor Spence Award for transformative early career contributions (2015)

SAGE Young Scholars Award for outstanding contributions to personality & social psychology (2015)

SESP Elected Fellow (2014)

S4SN Young Investigator Award for distinguished contributions in social neuroscience (2012)

University of Michigan Training Course in fMRI Fellowship (2010)

SPSP Student Publication Award (Honorable Mention; 2009)

SPSSI Social Issues Dissertation Award (2009)

SESP Dissertation Award (Finalist; 2009)

CPA Certificate of Academic Excellence for Dissertation (2009)

Summer Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience Fellowship (2007)

SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (2006)

APS Student Research Award (2006)

CPA Certificate of Academic Excellence for Masters Thesis (2005)

Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2004, 2005)

John Davidson Ketchum Memorial Graduate Award (2004)