Jean Decety

Jean Decety is Irving B. Harris Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, where he is also Director of the Child Neurosuite. He is the coeditor of The Social Neuroscience of Empathy and The Moral Brain and the editor of Empathy: From Bench to Bedside, all published by the MIT Press.

  • The Social Brain

    The Social Brain

    A Developmental Perspective

    Jean Decety

    A range of empirical and theoretical perspectives on the relationship between biology and social cognition from infancy through childhood.

    Recent research on the developmental origins of the social mind supports the view that social cognition is present early in infancy and childhood in surprisingly sophisticated forms. Developmental psychologists have found ingenious ways to test the social abilities of infants and young children, and neuroscientists have begun to study the neurobiological mechanisms that implement and guide early social cognition. Their work suggests that, far from being unfinished adults, babies are exquisitely designed by evolution to capture relevant social information, learn, and explore their social environments. This volume offers a range of empirical and theoretical perspectives on the relationship between biology and social cognition from infancy through childhood.

    The contributors consider scientific advances in early social perception and cognition, including findings on the development of face processing and social perceptual biases; explore recent research on early infant competencies for language and theory of mind, including a developmental account of how young children become moral agents and the role of electrophysiology in identifying psychological processes that underpin social cognition; discuss the origins and development of prosocial behavior, reviewing evidence for a set of innate predispositions to be social, cooperative, and altruistic; examine how young children make social categories; and analyze atypical social cognition, including autism spectrum disorder and psychopathy.


    Lior Abramson, Renée Baillargeon, Pascal Belin, Frances Buttelmann, Melody Buyukozer Dawkins, Sofia Cardenas, Michael J. Crowley, Fabrice Damon, Jean Decety, Michelle de Haan, Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz, Xiao Pan Ding, Kristen A. Dunfield, Rachel D. Fine, Ana Fló, Jennifer R. Frey, Susan A. Gelman, Diane Goldenberg, Marie-Hélène Grosbras, Tobias Grossmann, Caitlin M. Hudac, Dora Kampis, Tara A. Karasewich, Ariel Knafo-Noam, Tehila Kogut, Ágnes Melinda Kovács, Valerie A. Kuhlmeier, Kang Lee, Narcis Marshall, Eamon McCrory, David Méary, Christos Panagiotopoulos, Olivier Pascalis, Markus Paulus, Kevin A. Pelphrey, Marcela Peña, Valerie F. Reyna, Marjorie Rhodes, Ruth Roberts, Hagit Sabato, Darby Saxbe, Virginia Slaughter, Jessica A. Sommerville, Maayan Stavans, Nikolaus Steinbeis, Fransisca Ting, Florina Uzefovsky, Essi Viding

    • Hardcover $45.00
  • The Moral Brain

    The Moral Brain

    A Multidisciplinary Perspective

    Jean Decety and Thalia Wheatley

    An overview of the latest interdisciplinary research on human morality, capturing moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms.

    Over the past decade, an explosion of empirical research in a variety of fields has allowed us to understand human moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms shaped through evolution, development, and culture. Evolutionary biologists have shown that moral cognition evolved to aid cooperation; developmental psychologists have demonstrated that the elements that underpin morality are in place much earlier than we thought; and social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in moral decision making. This volume offers an overview of current research on the moral brain, examining the topic from disciplinary perspectives that range from anthropology and neurophilosophy to justice and law.

    The contributors address the evolution of morality, considering precursors of human morality in other species as well as uniquely human adaptations. They examine motivations for morality, exploring the roles of passion, extreme sacrifice, and cooperation. They go on to consider the development of morality, from infancy to adolescence; findings on neurobiological mechanisms of moral cognition; psychopathic immorality; and the implications for justice and law of a more biological understanding of morality. These new findings may challenge our intuitions about society and justice, but they may also lead to more a humane and flexible legal system.

    ContributorsScott Atran, Abigail A. Baird, Nicolas Baumard, Sarah Brosnan, Jason M. Cowell, Molly J. Crockett, Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza, Andrew W. Delton, Mark R. Dadds, Jean Decety, Jeremy Ginges, Andrea L. Glenn, Joshua D. Greene, J. Kiley Hamlin, David J. Hawes, Jillian Jordan, Max M. Krasnow, Ayelet Lahat, Jorge Moll, Caroline Moul, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Alexander Peysakhovich, Laurent Prétôt, Jesse Prinz, David G. Rand, Rheanna J. Remmel, Emma Roellke, Regina A. Rini, Joshua Rottman, Mark Sheskin, Thalia Wheatley, Liane Young, Roland Zahn

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Empathy


    From Bench to Bedside

    Jean Decety

    Recent work on empathy theory, research, and applications, by scholars from disciplines ranging from neuroscience to psychoanalysis.

    There are many reasons for scholars to investigate empathy. Empathy plays a crucial role in human social interaction at all stages of life; it is thought to help motivate positive social behavior, inhibit aggression, and provide the affective and motivational bases for moral development; it is a necessary component of psychotherapy and patient-physician interactions. This volume covers a wide range of topics in empathy theory, research, and applications, helping to integrate perspectives as varied as anthropology and neuroscience. The contributors discuss the evolution of empathy within the mammalian brain and the development of empathy in infants and children; the relationships among empathy, social behavior, compassion, and altruism; the neural underpinnings of empathy; cognitive versus emotional empathy in clinical practice; and the cost of empathy.

    Taken together, the contributions significantly broaden the interdisciplinary scope of empathy studies, reporting on current knowledge of the evolutionary, social, developmental, cognitive, and neurobiological aspects of empathy and linking this capacity to human communication, including in clinical practice and medical education.

    • Hardcover $25.00
    • Paperback $25.00
  • The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

    The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

    Jean Decety and William Ickes

    Cross-disciplinary, cutting-edge work on human empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology and cognitive/affective neuroscience.

    In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people's thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In these cutting-edge contributions, leading advocates of the multilevel approach view empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology and cognitive/affective neuroscience. Chapters include a critical examination of the various definitions of the empathy construct; surveys of major research traditions based on these differing views (including empathy as emotional contagion, as the projection of one's own thoughts and feelings, and as a fundamental aspect of social development); clinical and applied perspectives, including psychotherapy and the study of empathy for other people's pain; various neuroscience perspectives; and discussions of empathy's evolutionary and neuroanatomical histories, with a special focus on neuroanatomical continuities and differences across the phylogenetic spectrum. The new discipline of social neuroscience bridges disciplines and levels of analysis. In this volume, the contributors' state-of-the-art investigations of empathy from a social neuroscience perspective vividly illustrate the potential benefits of such cross-disciplinary integration.

    ContributorsC. Daniel Batson, James Blair, Karina Blair, Jerold D. Bozarth, Anne Buysse, Susan F. Butler, Michael Carlin, C. Sue Carter, Kenneth D. Craig, Mirella Dapretto, Jean Decety, Mathias Dekeyser, Ap Dijksterhuis, Robert Elliott, Natalie D. Eggum, Nancy Eisenberg, Norma Deitch Feshbach, Seymour Feshbach, Liesbet Goubert, Leslie S. Greenberg, Elaine Hatfield, James Harris, William Ickes, Claus Lamm, Yen-Chi Le, Mia Leijssen, Abigail Marsh, Raymond S. Nickerson, Jennifer H. Pfeifer, Stephen W. Porges, Richard L. Rapson, Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Rick B. van Baaren, Matthijs L. van Leeuwen, Andries van der Leij, Jeanne C. Watson

    • Hardcover $44.00
    • Paperback $25.00