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Humans evolved with conflicting psychological motives such as self-interest and prosociality. Did evolution favor one of these motives as our intuitive “default” in social decision-making? What neurobiological and psychological mechanisms guide social cognition, particularly moral reasoning, empathy, and justice motivation? How do these abilities develop in children, and how are they shaped by life experiences and group dynamics? Why do psychopaths show a lack of concern for others? Why do some ordinary people develop extreme views and become radical?

The University of Chicago Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, headed by Dr. Jean Decety, investigates these questions with the multi-level approach characteristic of social neuroscience, using functional and structural MRI, high-density EEG/ERP, eye-tracking, and behavioral economics in children and adults.

We have a separate child-friendly space, the Child Neurosuite, to study the development of moral cognition and prosocial behavior.


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Behavioral economics | Development | Empathy | Justice motivation | Morality | Neuropolitics | Prosociality | Psychopathy | Social decision-making