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Jay Van Bavel

We gain so much more from working together than apart.

Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU | Author of The Power of Us

Contact Jay For Booking
Jay Van Bavel | Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU | Author of The Power of Us
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

One of the biggest misconceptions we have about our identity is that it’s stable—when in reality, it’s constantly changing, oftentimes outside our awareness. In his new book The Power of Us—a blend of cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience—NYU professor Jay Van Bavel reveals how our identities are powerfully influenced by the groups we belong to, and why this knowledge is especially crucial during the turbulent times we’re living in. Bringing his fascinating research to life in engaging, practical talks, Van Bavel shows you how to harness the power of shared identities in the post-pandemic world: helping you lead more effectively, boost productivity and collaboration, overcome your biases, and inspire real change, both personally and societally.


The Power of Us is a fascinating journey into the science of identity. It is a practical, entertaining and, above all, vital guide to human behavior.”

— Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power Of Habit

An Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, with an affiliation at the Stern School of Business, Jay Van Bavel examines the psychology of topics such as implicit bias, group identity, team performance, decision-making, and public health. In his new book The Power of Us (co-written with Dominic J. Packer), Van Bavel dives deeper into the science of identity. This page-turning exploration reveals how our sense of self—our feelings, beliefs, and behaviors—is derived from our social groups, challenging society’s dominant assumptions about power and influence. Understanding these topics and dynamics will give you the necessary tools to build smarter, more collaborative groups and teams.


In an age where public life is characterized by ideological battles and impossible conflicts, Van Bavel offers a timely diagnosis for the dissonance ailing our world, as well as a path forward towards collaboration, unity, and success. It is just as applicable for CEOs and leaders making sense of the hybrid workplace, as it is for politicians and government organizations tackling the spread of misinformation online. Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power of Habit, writes, “If you've ever struggled to understand why people join cults or mindlessly conform — or, have wondered how to build great teams and influence better choices, this is the book you need.” As brilliant as it is entertaining, The Power of Us offers a revolutionary lens for seeing and understanding ourselves and each other.


Van Bavel was the recipient of the Golden Dozen Teaching Award at NYU, and has won several accolades for his research on how collective concerns shape the brain and behavior. His award-winning research has appeared in The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American, and has been cited in both the U.S. Supreme Court and Senate. Van Bavel has presented his work for conferences such as TEDx and the World Science Festival; for Fortune 500 organizations such as Uber and Amazon; and for the leading Psychology Departments and Business Schools around the country, including Harvard, Columbia, and Yale. To date, he has published over 100 academic papers, writes a mentoring column for Science Magazine, and has appeared on international media such as NBC News, NPR, and Bloomberg News. Van Bavel completed his PhD at the University of Toronto.

Speech Topics

The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony
While we may have come to think of our identities as stable and coming from within; the reality is, they are constantly changing and powerfully influenced by our membership within different groups. In his revolutionary new book The Power of Us, Jay Van Bavel explores how identity is shaped and reshaped by the social worlds we are a part of, and what this means for our potential for collaboration, our performance, and social harmony at large. Groups are central to how people define themselves, explains Van Bavel. And they can have profound effects on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Whether you're interested in the rise of social media and how its contributed to social conflict; you're a leader hoping to use identity principles to inspire and motivate your team; or you're interested in how humanity can confront global challenges like inequality or climate change, there's something in his groundbreaking book for everyone.
This stimulating, highly-customizable talk based on the book will show audiences how to apply Van Bavel’s cutting-edge findings in social psychology and cognitive neuroscience in the real world, including how shared identity can help us tackle our biggest problems with more unity, cohesion, and effective collaboration.
Corporate Culture
The Science of Collaboration Why Working Together Matters
We tend to regard innovation as being the product of individual genius, but the reality is that the majority of big discoveries made in the last few decades have been the result of teamwork. Managers and employees today now spend a significant portion of their time working together, and thanks to technology, collaborative activity has ballooned by fifty percent. So why are top-down hierarchical structures still the norm? And why do we continue to prize competition over collaboration?
Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, studies the science behind collaboration, and why it matters. The smartest teams aren’t the ones that necessarily have the highest IQ, says Van Bavel; they’re the ones who know how to interact with each other freely, and who feel safe enough to challenge one another. This is how break-throughs are made. In this talk, Van Bavel reveals how people develop group identities and the forces that bind us together. By harnessing the power of collaboration, he explains how to create groups that are more efficient, successful, and, ultimately, happier
Team Building
Breaking Groupthink Creating Smarter Solutions In Our Organizations
One of the biggest challenges in an organization is when groups are unable to make effective collective decisions. In many cases, the culture of an organization can generate an inability among its members to express dissent—even when the group is doomed to fail. How do teams avoid groupthink—or its equally problematic cousin, politicothink—and create an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up before things go off the rails?
Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, studies how to make groups smarter. Two of the biggest problems with groups happen when they are either too focused on maintaining internal cohesion or too focused on how they appear to others. These behaviors can enforce a blanket mentality that members are either “with us or against us”, decreasing the psychological safety needed for members to disagree with the group. However, it turns out that people who are willing to speak up are often those who care most about the group. This form of dissent is a critical part of group success—even when dissenters are ultimately wrong.
In this engaging and informative talk, Van Bavel reveals how to build a culture where constructive criticism can flourish and teams can make better decisions for the benefit of everyone involved.
Identity leadership How to Influence Others and Inspire Collective Action
From championship sports teams to world-class organizations, effective leaders are able make groups perform better than the sum of their parts. The keys to leadership, however, extend well beyond the capacities of the people in charge. Instead, the actions and language of leaders can have a powerful unconscious influence on the actions of their followers. By creating shared goals and embodying the values of the group, leaders can become far more effective—inspiring their teams to take action, even long after they’ve left the building.
In his work as a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, Jay Van Bavel studies the intricacies of groups and how to make them smarter. His research has examined how leaders can cultivate and harness a sense of shared identity to foster greater collaboration and cohesion within their teams.
This talk is grounded in the science of leadership and teamwork, presented by one of the leading minds on the topic. Van Bavel walks audiences through how to put identity leadership into practice and inspire their teams into collective action that will uplift entire organizations.