From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Jordan B. Peterson is a tenured research and clinical PhD psychologist who currently teaches at the University of Toronto. He frequently appears on TVO on various topics. His research interests include self-deception, mythology, religion, narrative, neuroscience, personality, deception, creativity, intelligence and motivation. He is one of the three professors listed in the Arts & Science Students Union's Anti-Calendar (an annual survey of course ratings by students) still teaching at the University of Toronto described as "life-changing" by students. John Vervaeke and Dan Dolderman are the other two and they both also teach in the psychology department. 
Jordan Peterson has a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Alberta. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from McGill University. He taught at Harvard University as an Assistant and an Associate Professor before returning to Canada and taking a position at the University of Toronto. Peterson currently resides in Toronto. He grew up in Fairview, Alberta, Canada, a small town of 3000 people 360 miles northwest of Edmonton, Alberta. He resided in Montreal from 1985–1993, where he studied under the supervision of Robert O. Pihl and Maurice Dongier. From 1993–1998 he lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, while teaching and conducting research at Harvard. He has resided in Toronto since 1998.
Peterson has appeared frequently on TVO on shows such as Big Ideas and The Agenda with Steve Paikin, where he currently serves as a monthly essayist. A number of these appearances are available on YouTube.
Peterson has produced a series of online writing exercises, available at www.selfauthoring.com. These include the Past Authoring Program, a guided autobiography; two Present Authoring Programs, which allow the user to analyze his or her personality faults and virtues in accordance with the Big Five personality model; and the Future Authoring program, which steps users through the process of envisioning and then planning their desired futures, three to five years down the road. The latter program was used with McGill University undergraduates on academic probation to improve their grades.
The Self Authoring programs were developed in partial consequence of research conducted by James Pennebaker at the University of Texas and Gary Latham at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Pennebaker demonstrated that writing about traumatic or uncertain events and situations improved mental and physical health, while Latham has demonstrated that planning exercises that are personal help make people more productive.
Peterson published Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief in 1999, after working on the book for fifteen years. The book describes a comprehensive rational theory for how we construct meaning, represented by the mythical process of the exploratory hero, and also provides a way of interpreting religious and mythical models of reality presented in a way that fits in with modern scientific understanding of how the brain works. It synthesizes a large number of ideas drawn from narratives in mythology, religion, literature and philosophy, as well as research from modern neuropsychology.
Peterson’s primary goal was to figure out the reasons why individuals, not simply groups, engage in social conflict, and try to model the path individuals take that results in atrocities like the Holocaust or the Soviet Gulag. Peterson considers himself a pragmatist, and uses science and neuropsychology to examine and learn from the belief systems of the past and vice versa, but his theory is primarily phenomenological. Peterson deeply explores the origins of evil, and also posits that an analysis of the world’s religious ideas might allow us to describe our essential morality and eventually develop a universal system of morality.
The book is an encyclopedic examination of a wide range of thought and stories that illustrate the process by which meaning is created, often in complex and recursive ways, but all ultimately grounded in the basic heroic framework. The book draws heavily on C. G. Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Also important to the book’s ideas are Jean Piaget, Mircea Eliade, Thomas Kuhn, Northrop Frye, Alexander Luria, Olga Vinogradova, Jeffrey Alan Gray, George Orwell, Erich Neumann, Antonio Damasio, Jerome Bruner, Joseph Campbell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Literature and myth including the Bible, Shakespeare, Dante, Tolstoy, Goethe, Voltaire, Milton, Lao Tzu, Scandinavian myths, the Babylonian creation myth Enûma Eliš and the Egyptian creation myths of Osiris and Seth play a large part as well.