Adam Waytz

Why do whistleblowers risk speaking out?

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About Adam Waytz

Psychologist Adam Waytz is dedicated to uncovering how opposing sides of moral conflicts understand and misunderstand each other’s motives. Adam studies the causes and consequences of perceiving mental states in other entities and investigates processes related to social influence, social connection, meaning-making, morality, and ethics. His ongoing work explores questions with direct application to politics, society, and current events; for example, studying how people establish trust with autonomous vehicles. At Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where Adam is an associate professor, his classes focus on how to resolve difficult ethical dilemmas and how to lead through values and ethical appeals rather than through traditional means. Among his many accomplishments, he is the first person to receive twice the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Adam has published in numerous journals, including Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Review, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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About This Talk

Sometimes, morality is clear-cut. For instance, most people would agree that theft is wrong. However, there are also plenty of gray areas when it comes to morality. The actions of whistleblowers, or individuals who report unethical behavior to outside authorities, often fall into this morally ambiguous area. Depending on how you feel about the person or institution against which the whistleblower is speaking out, you might decide that the whistleblower is either a courageous hero or a depraved traitor. Adam Waytz is digging deeper into the act of whistleblowing to understand why some people risk everything to speak out against wrongdoings. Check out Adam’s 2018 TEDMED Talk to learn more about the psychology of whistleblowing and to get his take on some of the social trends that are pushing whistleblowers to come forward more than ever before.

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