Media Spotlight on 'Dark Side'

New York Magazine, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and Oprah Praise Kashdan’s 'The Upside of Your Dark Side'

Media Spotlight on 'Dark Side'

Todd Kashdan, faculty member, Department of Psychology and senior scientist, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, seems to have hit a societal nerve with his book (co-authored with Robert Biswas-Diener) The Upside of Your Dark Side.

New York Magazine and the website of the University of California, Berkeley, Greater Good Institute include two essays by Kashdan and Biswas-Diener based upon the book, in which the authors highlight the benefits that “negative” personality traits bring to the right situations, along with the utility of anger and how best to manage and express it. The November 2014 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, relied on Dark Side as support for including “anger, guilt, and anxiety” among its list of things to be grateful for.

Kashdan is enthusiastic about having the work discussed in the popular press. “The idea that science will impact the world by writing in scientific journals is an antiquated notion,” he explains. "There is too much information and scientists often forget to be humans first and scientists second. That is, jargon interferes with educating the public. To share the merits of science, we need to be storytellers, we need to evoke emotions, we need to be entertaining, and we need to be clear about why people should care about science and how it can influence their lives.

“My co-author and I wrote this book to offer a counterpoint to the public obsession with happiness and positivity. There are decades of research suggesting that in certain situations, we are better off when we deviate from positivity and accept and harness darker sides of our personality - anger, anxiety, boredom, disgust, mindlessness, and even grandiose narcissism and the fearless dominance of psychopaths. We are not talking about becoming a grumpy, narcissistic, selfish person. We are talking about appreciating those parts of our personality that are uncomfortable, unwanted, and socially undesirable and yet, exactly what we often need to make progress toward the goals that matter most to us."