Psychologist Jay Van Bavel to deliver March 31 Expanding Empathy lecture

David Price
March 26, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The fifth of the six talks in the 2021 Expanding Empathy lecture series is scheduled for Wednesday, March 31, with Jay Van Bavel, associate professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, presenting.

The topic of Van Bavel’s lecture, which is being delivered as a Zoom webinar at 3:30 p.m., is “For Better or Worse: The Role of Social Identity in the Pandemic.”

"The world might have just undergone the biggest behavior change experiment in human history,” Van Bavel observes. “Billions of people were forced to dramatically alter their social behavior within days or weeks. Our research suggests that a sense of commitment to one another might have played a critical role in mobilizing social change during this global crisis.”

"The first four talks in this year’s Expanding Empathy series focused on how people manage different aspects of empathy — including perceiving minds, perspective-taking, generating concern and resonating with others’ experiences — across a range of contexts and entities,” said C. Daryl Cameron, convener of the Rock Ethics Institute’s Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative. “Dr. Van Bavel’s talk considers these concerns scaled up within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people navigate empathy, fellow-feeling and interpersonal obligations to maintain public health.”

Admission to the online event is free, but pre-registration is required.

Cameron and Van Bavel also will hold an informal meet-and-greet after Van Bavel’s lecture, beginning at approximately 4:45 p.m. Anyone interested in joining that session can reach out directly to Daryl Cameron for more information.

The Expanding Empathy lectures are aimed toward a broad, interdisciplinary audience, and they are open to faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and the public.

After Van Bavel speaks, the remaining solo lecture in the 2021 Expanding Empathy series is:

  • April 7, “Switching Tracks? A Two-Dimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology,” presented by Jim A.C. Everett, lecturer (assistant professor), University of Kent.

Past years’ presentations in the Expanding Empathy lecture series are available here.

The series is supported by Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and College of Health and Human Development, as well as the Department of Psychology, the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and the Penn State University Libraries.

As part of his broader research and outreach on empathy and generosity, series organizer Daryl Cameron is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Established in 2001 through the support of Doug and Julie Rock, the Rock Ethics Institute promotes engaged ethics research and ethical leadership from its home in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.

  • Image of Jay Van Bavel

    Jay Van Bavel
    Associate Professor Of Psychology, NYU

    IMAGE: NYU
Last Updated March 29, 2021