Dacher Keltner

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Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, where he directs the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab.[1] He is also the director of the Greater Good Science Center,[2] formerly known as the Center for the Development of Peace and Well-Being.

Early life and education[edit]

Keltner received his B.A. in psychology and sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1984, he received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1989, and he completed three years of post-doctoral work with Paul Ekman at the University of California, San Francisco.[3]


He took his first academic job, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then returned to University of California, Berkeley's Psychology Department in 1996 attaining full professorship in 2002.[4]

His research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, beauty, and power, social class, and social inequality.[5]

Keltner is the co-author of two textbooks, as well as the best-selling Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and The Compassionate Instinct. Keltner has published over 190 scientific articles, he has written for the The New York Times Magazine The Times, and Utne Reader, and has received numerous national prizes and grants for his research[4] His research has been covered in Time (magazine), Newsweek, The New York Times, the BBC, CNN, NPR, The Wall Street Journal[citation needed] and in many other outlets, and been a focus in two panels with the Dalai Lama[3]

He has collaborated with directors at Pixar, including film director and animator Pete Docter in preparation of his 2015 film Inside Out.[6] He worked with a design team at Facebook, and on projects at Google, and was recently featured in Tom Shadyac’s movie I Am.[7]

He has received the outstanding teacher and research mentor awards from UC Berkeley, and seen 20 of his PhD students and post-doctoral fellows become professors. WIRED magazine recently rated his podcasts from his course Emotion as one of the five best educational downloads, and the Utne Reader selected Dacher for one of its 50 2008 visionaries.[8]

Some of his research has been criticized for signs of publication bias[9] and inconsistency with results obtained by other scientists.[10]

Theory of Power[edit]

Together with Deborah H. Gruenfeld of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Cameron Anderson[11] psychologist at Berkeley, Keltner has developed a theory of power that aims to present an integrative account of the effects of power on human behaviour, suggesting that the acquisition of power has a disinhibiting effect regarding the social consequences of exercising it.[12][13][14]

Science of Happiness[edit]

In his book Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, Keltner explores the science behind well-being. The book attempts to counter the bias that we are wired to be self-interested. Keltner explores the Confucianism idea of the Jen ratio; the relationship between actions that bring the good of others to completion and those that bring out bad. The greater score is a direct relation to your happiness. In the book he touches on the qualities of gratitude, compassion, play, awe, embarrassment and teasing and how these qualities are innate in people but also can be developed.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Keltner lives in Berkeley with his wife, Mollie McNeil, an alumna of Berkeley, and their two daughters.[3]


  • Keltner, Dacher, Keith Oatley, and Jennifer M. Jenkins.Understanding Emotions 3rd ed. scheduled for 2014. ISBN 9781118147436;[16] prev. ed. published by Blackwell Publishers, 1996
  • Keltner, Dacher, Jason Marsh, and Jeremy Adam Smith, editors, The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010. ISBN 9780393337280 [17]
  • Keltner, Dacher. Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2009. ISBN 9780393337136 In 991 libraries according to WorldCat [18]
    • translated into Dutch by Peter van Huizen as De mens is niet slecht : emoties als bron van goed en zinvol leven ISBN 9789079001156
  • Gilovich, Thomas, Dacher Keltner, and Richard E. Nisbett. Social Psychology. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006 ISBN


  1. ^ "Berkeley Social Interaction Lab". BSI Lab. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "Staff". Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Dacher, Keltner. "About". The Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Dacher, Keltner. "Curriculum vitae" (PDF). Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  5. ^ http://psychology.berkeley.edu/people/dacher-keltner
  6. ^ J. Wesley Judd (July 8, 2015). "A Conversation With the Psychologist Behind 'Inside Out'". Pacific Standard. Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ https://www.calprojectawe.org/team
  8. ^ http://www.utne.com/2008-11-13/50-visionaries-who-are-changing-your-world.aspx
  9. ^ Francis, G (2012). "Evidence that publication bias contaminated studies relating social class and unethical behavior". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109: E1587; author reply E1588. doi:10.1073/pnas.1203591109. PMC 3382534free to read. PMID 22615347. 
  10. ^ Korndörfer, M; Egloff, B; Schmukle, SC (2015). "A Large Scale Test of the Effect of Social Class on Prosocial Behavior". PLoS ONE. 10: e0133193. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133193. PMC 4507988free to read. PMID 26193099. 
  11. ^ "Faculty and Executive Leadership Directory". Haas School of Business. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  12. ^ Lehrer, Jonah (14 August 2010). "The Power Trip". The Wall Street Journal. Contrary to the Machiavellian cliché, nice people are more likely to rise to power. Then something strange happens: Authority atrophies the very talents that got them there. 
  13. ^ Robertson, Ian H. (March 2013). "How power affects the brain". British Psychological Society. 
  14. ^ Keltner, Dacher; Gruenfeld, Deborah H; Anderson, Cameron (2003). "Power, Approach and Inhibition" (PDF). Psychological Review. 110 (2): 265–284. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.110.2.265. 
  15. ^ Grothe, D.J. "Dacher Keltner - Born to be Good". Point of Inquiry. Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  16. ^ WorldCat
  17. ^ WorldCat
  18. ^ WorldCat book record

External links[edit]