Is the world getting less violent?

Steven Pinker discusses violence and human nature on Social Science Bites

Is the world getting less violent? Steven Pinker argues that it is. Talking with Dr. Nigel Warburton, Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University discusses violence and human nature and the broader implications for our evolving understanding of the nature of social science. In a world dominated by stories of war, crime and terrorism it would be hard to believe that violence has dwindled, how has this happened? Does the growth of consumption, the extended reach of Government, the growth of trade and commerce and our travel habits, have something to do with it? These questions form the latest Social Science Bites podcast.

Pinker says that fundamental to our sense of meaning and purpose is a conception of how the strivings of the human race have left us better or worse off. The historical trajectory of violence affects not only how life is lived but how it is understood. He claims that our cognitive faculties predispose us to believe we live in violent times, especially when they are stoked by media,  so that people’s impressions of violence are disconnected from the actual proportions. He also adds that the decrease in violence calls for an explanation in terms of psychology and history: history has engaged our psychology and we need to look at how human minds deal with changing circumstances.

Dissecting human nature by looking at both psychology and history, tells us a lot about how human nature has become more peaceable. Listen to the podcast in full to find out more.

Social Science Bites are produced in association with SAGE. Want to listen to more? Previous episodes include;

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