Born to Be Good (Paperback)

The Science of a Meaningful Life

By Dacher Keltner

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393337136, 352pp.

Publication Date: October 5, 2009

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (1/12/2009)
MP3 CD (8/2/2016)

List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


“A landmark book in the science of emotions and its implications for ethics and human universals.”—Library Journal, starred review

In this startling study of human emotion, Dacher Keltner investigates an unanswered question of human evolution: If humans are hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short,” why have we evolved with positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and cooperative societies? Illustrated with more than fifty photographs of human emotions, Born to Be Good takes us on a journey through scientific discovery, personal narrative, and Eastern philosophy. Positive emotions, Keltner finds, lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior—and they just may be the key to understanding how we can live our lives better.

About the Author

Dacher Keltner is Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught social psychology for the past 21 years and is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Letters and Sciences. His research focuses on the prosocial emotions (such as love, sympathy, and gratitude), morality, and power. Other awards include the Western Psychological Association’s award for outstanding contribution to research, the Positive Psychology Prize for excellence in research, and the Distinguished Mentoring Award at UC Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In 2008, the Utne Reader listed Dacher as one of the 50 visionaries changing the world.

Praise For Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

A bright, entertaining book . . . [that] covers broad, interesting territory.
— Janet Maslin

A fact-filled, fun, and enlightened peek into our minds and hearts.
— Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

A fresh and absolutely fascinating book.
— Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

Book Videos