Getting to Yes, And

The Power of Us


Jay J. Van Bavel

Subscribe on

Kelly connects with NYU professor Jay J. Van Bavel to talk about his new book The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation and Promote Social Harmony.

In this book about social identity, you note that New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden modeled the kind of behavior that led to her country having so few Covid cases.

“You act as if you're one of the group and you're willing to put yourself at that level and embody and role model the things that you expect of your followers. And that is what inspires people to feel like part of the shared team with you, with the shared purpose and to make sacrifices that you're asking of them, which is really critical in a pandemic.”

You also note that just because we are tribal, that doesn’t mean our tribe can’t be inclusive and collaborative.

“When we think about identity in groups, we often think of tribalism as the moment you identify as one team you're going to dislike the other team. But the second part of identity is what norms you identify with a group that is inclusive and embraces people who are different, and as collaborative or cooperative. The more people identify that group, the more inclusive they become and the more cooperative and tolerant. And so what matters is not just what group we identify with, but what the norms of that identity are and that's where leadership really plays a key role.”

I was also glad to see you break down the replication crisis - which is a real thing - but it’s also always been a science thing, right?

“So the replication crisis is really important to know when reading a social science book or psychology book or these pop science books. What it means is that some of the studies, when people rerun them they don't find the same effects, and so you can't really trust it. And by the way, this is not just a social or behavioral science thing, the same thing is happening in cancer research, in biology and chemistry, the same things are in economics, same things are happening in every field. That's part of what science is, if someone shows something someone else should be able to take the same methods and find it in another study, if not, you abandon it pretty quickly. You know,  the great thing about science: nothing's dogmatic.”

Related Episodes