Steven PinkerOpen Access

Steven Pinker

at Harvard University

Evolutionary psychologist, linguist and author. Named as one of the world's most influential intellectuals, he focuses on the evolution of language and morals, how life is better now than ever and how genetics drives behavior.

Insights you can learn from Steven’s work

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Results

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Key Takeaways

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Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

at Harvard University

Evolutionary psychologist, linguist and author. Named as one of the world's most influential intellectuals, he focuses on the evolution of language and morals, how life is better now than ever and how genetics drives behavior.

The study

Setup

Nuggademic people academic

Results

study graph
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In detail

• Morals are driven by 5 factors (2008)
Though ever-evolving over time and different according to culture, Pinker states that what is seen as morally-acceptable is governed by our needs for fair Reciprocity, Community belonging, adherence to some form of Authority, Aversion to Risk and avoidance of harm to others.

• Imagery is incredibly powerful for cognition (1986)
In Steven’s words “We are visual creatures. Visual things stay put, whereas sounds fade.” His award-winning research into visual cognition teaches us how it works and points towards the power of the Picture Superiority Effect.

“All of the violence that doesn’t occur doesn’t get reported on the news.”

- Pinker (2018) Enlightenment Now

• We believe things are much worse than evidence suggests (2018)
In his 2018 book, Enlightenment Now, he targets common misconceptions about violence and inequality in modern society, showing that these false beliefs are a result of the Availability Bias. Quantitative evidence shows how wealth has increased around the globe, while poverty and violence have both decreased.

• We're different, and that's okay... (2012)
In The Blank Slate, he argues that some human characteristics are pre-defined by our genes. For instance, he states that there are visible differences between the brains of men and women, citing research that men are less Risk Averse and are better at conceptualizing 3D objects. Similarly, women are much better at spelling and reading body language and facial expressions.

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Open access, foundational Nuggets

Scarcity

Scarcity

We value things more when they’re in limited supply

Social Proof

Social Proof

We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory

A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

Default Effect

Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

Dynamic Norms

We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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