Current Research

  • Most of our research revolves around trying to understand the evolution and maintenance of the psychological mechanisms that govern cooperative behavior in humans. Specifically, we currently have research projects that try to answer the following questions:
    • What motivates people to retaliate against others?
    • Why do people sometimes forgive transgressors instead of retaliating against them?
    • How does gratitude facilitate social relationships?
    • When and why are humans generous towards strangers?
    • What social information do facial expressions like smiles communicate? Why are facial expressions reliable signals of certain mental states?
    • How do living conditions from early in development affect cooperative behavior in adulthood?
    • What cues do people use to infer that others value their welfare and/or are valuable social partners?
    • Does religion make people more prosocial?
  • We also have strong interests in evaluating the methodological rigor and reliability of important findings in social science. Specifically, we have recently investigated or are currently investigating the following questions:
    • Are the tools scientists use to measure and manipulate levels of oxytocin in humans valid?
    • Are experimental measures of prosocial behaviors like generosity confounded by experimental demand or a lack of experimental realism?
    • Does implicit priming affect complex social behaviors?
    • Do humans experience "ego depletion" following the exertion of self-control behaviors?
    • Does taking the perspective of another person affect emotional responses to learning about the welfare of that person?