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Episode 83 — Dr. Jay Van Bavel — The Power of Us: Harnessing Shared Identities

"Our identities and the way we're filtering the world visually make it hard for us to have this notion of objective evidence. Objective evidence can help when it's really ambiguous, but when it's ambiguous, that's when identities and the way we filter the world matter a great deal." - Dr. Jay Van Bavel

  • Why do people identify with certain groups?
  • How are Jay and his team providing people with the tools to navigate the social world?
  • What are the key components to understanding identity?
  • Why are people social chameleons?

Toolkit: Defining Social Skills

As an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, Jay has brought a fresh perspective to the world of social science. His outstanding research has been published over 100 times academically, and his works have been featured on global platforms such as the BBC, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Oh, and he's also been cited by the United States Senate and Supreme Court. No big deal.

With his recent book "The Power of Us," Jay intends to give people the tools not only to be leaders, but navigate the social world. Focusing on relevant topics such as social media influence, Jay's research intends to break the mold by giving people the tools to become the masters of their own identities.

Influencer: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

While people like the idea of individualism, in reality people's behavior originates from those around them. Jay believes people are "social chameleons," outlining the nature of human interaction. He states that one major contributor to adopted behaviorism is social media. Van Bavel explores all sides of social media, from its benefits to its power to divide and spread misinformation.

In this episode, Jay explains the impact of social media, influence, and why people identify with certain groups. Van Bavel says that "we often think of ourselves as individuals," yet when placed in a context where we need to work together, we "form a shared identity." This evaluation outlines the social balances we often face in our day-to-day lives.

Check Yourself: Conflicts and Bias

In this episode, Van Bavel touches upon self-reflection. While examining group identities, Jay speaks of "naïve realism" — meaning that people think they see reality for what it is, when in fact there are other perspectives and other views that differ from your own.

Jay believes it's important to be aware of your surroundings and how social situations are far bigger than what meets the eye to an individual. We break down group dynamics and piece together the social puzzle.

Key takeaways:

  • Know your crowd. Understand the effect that those around you have on your beliefs.
  • Is this real life? Social media is a powerful tool, in ways both negative and positive.
  • Open your mind. Seek out others' opinions around you to gain perspective.

Links and Resources