Welcome to the Evolution and Social Cognition (ESC) Lab

How do people decide whom to help, whom to harm, whom to befriend, and whom to avoid? In our research in the ESC Lab, we try to shed light on these perennial social-psychological topics by integrating principles from cognitive and evolutionary psychology. To do so, we use a theoretical approach grounded in considering how psychological mechanisms process inputs from the environment to adaptively regulate social emotions and behavior. Some of our main research interests include how the mind regulates punishment and anger, how gratitude and forgiveness function to build and maintain relationships, and how individual and cultural differences in cooperation arise. Additional interests include decision-making and self-control, forgiveness, empathy, and assessing the validity of various experimental methods.

New papers: 

Forster, D. E., Pedersen, E. J., McCullough, M. E., & Lieberman, D. (in press). Evaluating benefits, costs, and social value as predictors of gratitude. Psychological Science

Flores, A., Cole, J. C., Dickert, S., Eom, K., Jiga-Boy, G. M., Kogut, T., Loria, R. N., Mayorga, M., Pedersen, E. J., Pereira, B., Rubaltelli, E., Sherman, D. K., Slovic, P., Västfjäll, D., & Van Boven, L. (in press). Politicians polarize and experts depolarize public support for COVID-19 containment policies across countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Grant, M. D., Flores, A., Pedersen, E. J., Sherman, D. K., & Van Boven, L. (2021). When election expectations fail: Polarized perceptions of election legitimacy increase with accumulating evidence of election outcomes and with polarized media. PLOS ONE.

Correll, J., Mellinger, C., & Pedersen, E. J. (2021). Flexible approaches for estimating partial eta squared in mixed-effects models with crossed random factors. Behavior Research Methods.