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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.

We are looking for a graduate student to start in the lab in Fall 2020. Interested students should apply to the Social Program in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. Application deadline is December 1. 

New papers: 

Pedersen, E. J., McAuliffe, W. H. B., Shah, Y., Tanaka, H., Ohtsubo, Y., & McCullough, M. E. (in press). When and why do third parties punish outside of the lab? A cross-cultural recall study. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

McAuliffe, W. H. B., Forster, D. E., Pedersen, E. J., & McCullough, M.E. (2019). Does cooperation in the laboratory reflect the operation of a broad trait? European Journal of Personality.

Simpson, E. A., Paukner, A., Pedersen, E. J., Ferrari, P., & Parr, L. A. (2019). Visual preferences for direct gaze faces in infant macaques (Macaca mulatta) with limited face exposure. Developmental Psychobiology.

McAuliffe, W. H. B., Forster, D. E., Pedersen, E. J., & McCullough, M.E. (2018). Experience with anonymous interactions reduces intuitive cooperation. Nature Human Behavior.

Pedersen, E. J., McAuliffe, W. H. B., & McCullough, M. E. (2018). The unresponsive avenger: More evidence that disinterested third parties do not punish altruisticallyJournal of Experimental Psychology: General.