Dacher Keltner’s research focuses the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, and beauty, and power, social class, and inequality. As a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab, he is a leading scholar in the study of emotion, including a new project on awe around the globe, as well as power, class, and inequality.
Dacher also serves as the Faculty Director of the Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. In 2020, along with Michael Pollan and others, he co-founded the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics. The center conducts research using psychedelics to investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain. In addition, Dacher is Chief Scientific Advisor at Hume AI.
Dacher is the author of The Power Paradox, as well as the bestseller Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and The Compassionate Instinct. He has published over 190 scientific articles, including seminal works on the psychology of awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003) and is the co-author of two textbooks. He is also co-editor of The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, London Times, and Utne Reader, and his research has been covered in TIME, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNN, NPR, and the BBC as well as many other outlets. His new book is Awe: The New Science Of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life (Penguin Random House, January 3, 2023).
Dacher has collaborated on projects at Facebook and Google, and served as a scientific consultant for Pixar's film Inside Out. He is featured in Tom Shadyac's documentary I Am. He has twice presented his research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a continuing dialogue between the Dalai Lama and scientists. Dacher has received outstanding teacher and research mentor awards from UC Berkeley, and seen 20 of his PhD students and post-doctoral fellows become professors.
Dacher is an outstanding speaker who has received several national research and teaching awards. He is the host of The Science of Happiness podcast which has 50 million downloads and was ranked a top health podcast by Apple Podcasts and a top 10 wellness podcast by Oprah Magazine. Wired magazine has rated the podcasts of his “Human Emotion” course as one of the five best academic podcasts in the country. The Utne Reader named Dacher as one of its 50 Visionaries of 2008. In April 2020 he was voted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Guaridan: Here’s why you need to be cultivating awe in your life (2023)
On Being with Krista Tippett: Dacher Keltner, The Thrilling New Science of Awe (2023)
RNZ Nine to Noon: Awe: transforming minds and bodies - Dacher Keltner (2023)
KPCW The Mountain Life: Human emotion expert explains how "everyday wonder" can transform outlook (2023)
New York Times: How a Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health (2023)
Life Examined: The science of wonder — and why it’s good for us (2021)
Psychology Today: A Recipe for a Happy Life (2019)
Harvard Business Review: Don’t Let Power Corrupt You (2018)
Berkeley News: At Davos, psychologist explains machismo that gave rise to #MeToo (2018)
Los Angeles Times: Guess what? The rich really are different from everyone else — and it ain’t pretty (2018)
Harvard Business Review: Sex, Power, and the Systems That Enable Men Like Harvey Weinstein (2017)
PBS NewsHour: How do humans gain power? By sharing it (2016) [video]
KALW: Professor Dacher Keltner talks about the science of happiness (2015) [audio]
Photo Natalie Keltner-McNeil