Our lab aims to understand social cognition: what cognitive and neural processes let us learn from other humans, learn about other humans, and make choices involving other humans? How do domain-general processes (reward-based reinforcement, valuation, habit, generalization) intersect with social processes (impression formation, empathy, morality, social identity)?
Next, we aim to use these insights to characterize social behavior. How are patterns of social learning expressed in people's cooperation, affiliation, or social networks? How do they relate to people's social well-being? How are these behaviors shaped by social environments?
Finally, we are interested in applying these insights to better understand and impact societal challenges including economic inequality, intergroup relations, and environmental sustainability.
Our lab uses a multi-level approach to understand these phenomena across behavior, the mind, and the brain. We merge social psychological approaches and computational neuroscience approaches, including behavioral experiments, economic games, computational modeling, and neuroimaging.
More details on our work can be found below.
Ventral striatum encodes key learning signals in social interactions. Image from Hackel, Doll, & Amodio (2015).
Social decisions require estimating the value of interacting with a partner, encoded in vmPFC. T Image from a commentary on our work by Hsu & Jenkins (2015).
Individuals highly invested in their in-group show larger responses in ventral striatum when witnessing an in-group member, rather than an out-group member, win money. Image from Hackel, Zaki, & Van Bavel, 2017.