Jordan Peterson || Chatting About Human Nature

August 5, 2021

Today’s episode includes a conversation between Dr. Jordan B Peterson and Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman. Dr. Peterson is professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist, and the author of the bestsellers 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos and Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life. Note that this episode originally appeared on the Jordan B Peterson Podcast on June 17, 2021.


  • Combining cognitive science with the humanistic psychology tradition
  • Scott’s experience studying IQ and intelligence
  • The link between openness to experience and mystical experiences
  • Scott discusses his book Transcend
  • Self-actualization and The Big Five personality traits
  • Does increased aggression lead to stable human societal hierarchies?
  • Jordan and Scott discuss mating patterns among humans
  • Sex differences towards abuse of power
  • Mentorship and transcendence
  • The transition from naivety to cynicism to courage


5 Responses to “Jordan Peterson || Chatting About Human Nature”

  1. Nicole Saltsman says:

    Thank you, both!
    What an exceptional conversation between two of my favourite contemporary psychologist/thinkers.

  2. Michelle Stranges says:

    Such a captivating discussion that kept me so absorbed I didn’t want it to end! The razor sharp insights about your understanding of human psychology resonate with me and I am so glad you have confirmed my belief (and experience) about the goodness of most people we meet.

    Thank you for freely sharing your thoughts as we need more of these in depth discussions to nudge the world in the right direction.

  3. Alan Cook says:

    This was a great conversation. I studied the Big Five as part of my master’s thesis (how the traits correlate with attitudes toward relationships) and this conversation makes me want to do research again. I think the approach of looking at interactions between traits and facets of traits is much more interesting than the pop-psychology either/or distinctions usually made. As a funny aside, I score high in both Openness and Conscientiousness. One might think that combination might make someone neurotic (colloquially speaking), yet I score reliably low on Neuroticism (haha). It is fascinating to look at these interactions both within individuals and trends within populations. Thank you for perking up my interest in these topics and for contributing broadly to research.

  4. Shawn OBrien, Psy.D. says:

    Scott, I appreciate your recognition of both the strengths and limitations of IQ tests. Your own personal experience has obviously made you very aware of the limitations of their predictive power, especially in childhood with individuals with learning differences. While IQ tests are the single best predictor we have of future performance, I wish more people understood that they only predict 25% of the variance in future performance, and this is based on a mean in large groups. Kevin McGrew has demonstrated there is a huge range in future achievement at any given IQ score. If this were more understood, perhaps IQ tests wouldn’t be so often misused in the context of special education. (I think all states should copy Iowa’s model of special education). Dr. Peterson appears to have a very common misconception of Carl Roger’s concept of unconditional positive regard. Rogers described unconditional positive regard as acceptance (nonjudgmentalism) of the client’s feelings and subjective experience, but not necessarily acceptance of all behavior. If one accepted all behavior, there would be no need for change or therapy. Rogers’ brilliance was that he recognized that the more people feel accepted and not judged as a person, the less defensive they become. This leads to fewer distortions in how reality is perceived, and greater openness to change. This is the human paradox: the more we feel accepted the way we are, the more open we are to change. In actual practice, it takes much time and effort to learn the skills needed to convey genuine unconditional positive regard while helping the client become aware of the lack of congruence in their behavior. It’s often a tightrope for even the most skilled clinician.

Join the Discussion