Dacher Keltner

Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley
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"A new science of power has revealed that power is wielded most effectively when it’s used responsibly by people who are attuned to, and engaged with the needs and interests of others."

Dacher Keltner was born in Jalisco, Mexico, the offspring of two early members of the counterculture. His mother, a literature professor, and father, an artist, raised him and his brother in Laurel Canyon in the late 60s, where those North Hollywood hills were filled with revolution. When his mom secured her first job as a professor in 1970, the family moved to a conservative town in the foothills of the California Sierra Nevada (in his 7th grade social studies class, he represented the North’s side in a debate about the Civil War, and was declared the loser by his teacher from Tennessee). He received his BA from UC Santa Barbara in 1984 and a PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 1989. After a post-doc at UCSF with Paul Ekman, in 1992 he landed his first academic job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then returned to Berkeley’s Psychology Department in 1996, where he is now a full professor and Faculty Director of the Greater Good Science Center.

Dacher’s research focuses the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, beauty, power, social class, and inequality. He 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. He has published over 190 scientific articles, and written for the New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, The London Times, The Wall Street Journal, SLATE, Utne Reader, and received numerous national prizes and grants for his research. His research has been covered hundreds of times, including in TIME, Newsweek, the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and in many other outlets. His Science of Happiness MOOC at EdX has had over 300,000 enroll. He 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 him for one of its 50 visionaries in 2008.

In the past several years he has translated his science to projects out in the world. He was a scientific consultant on Pixar’s film Inside Out. For three years he worked with Facebook engineers and designers to make the site more kind, worked on projects at Google on altruism and emotion, and was recently featured in Tom Shadyac’s movie I Am. He is collaborating with the Sierra Club to get veterans and inner city kids outdoors. Building upon his experiences in a restorative justice program with prisoners in San Quentin Prison, he wrote a brief for a case, Ashker v. Governor of California (ccrjustic.org), which led to the curtailment of solitary confinement in maximum security prisons in California.

He is married to writer Mollie McNeil and has a full life with two teenage daughters, Natalie and Serafina. He loves camping, backpacking, Mexican food, Iggy Pop, African Music, Art Museums, Yoga, and friends.

Programs for Individuals 
Academic Background 

PhD, Stanford University

BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

Publications & Media

Videos 

Machiavellian Power – An Outdated Legacy

WATCH VIDEO

A Look Inside the Women's Executive Leadership Program

WATCH VIDEO

Rising to Power with Social Intelligence

WATCH VIDEO

TEDxBerkeley - Dacher Keltner

WATCH VIDEO

The Power Paradox

WATCH VIDEO

Warning Signs for Abuses of Power

WATCH VIDEO
VIEW MORE
Books 

The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

VIEW BOOK

Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

VIEW BOOK

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

VIEW BOOK

Understanding Emotions

VIEW BOOK
VIEW MORE
Papers & Articles 

The science of touch: why physical contact can make you happier and more successful

VIEW PAPER

Don’t Let Power Corrupt You

VIEW PAPER

Why Do We Feel Awe?

VIEW PAPER

The Perils of Power

VIEW PAPER

Power Corrupts, But It Doesn’t Have To

VIEW PAPER
VIEW MORE
Programs for Individuals 
Academic Background 

PhD, Stanford University

BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

Publications & Media

Videos 

Machiavellian Power – An Outdated Legacy

WATCH VIDEO

A Look Inside the Women's Executive Leadership Program

WATCH VIDEO

Rising to Power with Social Intelligence

WATCH VIDEO

TEDxBerkeley - Dacher Keltner

WATCH VIDEO

The Power Paradox

WATCH VIDEO

Warning Signs for Abuses of Power

WATCH VIDEO
VIEW MORE
Books 

The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

VIEW BOOK

Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

VIEW BOOK

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

VIEW BOOK

Understanding Emotions

VIEW BOOK
VIEW MORE
Papers & Articles 

The science of touch: why physical contact can make you happier and more successful

VIEW PAPER

Don’t Let Power Corrupt You

VIEW PAPER

Why Do We Feel Awe?

VIEW PAPER

The Perils of Power

VIEW PAPER

Power Corrupts, But It Doesn’t Have To

VIEW PAPER
VIEW MORE