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Empathy & Moral Psychology Lab

Welcome to the Empathy and Moral Psychology (EMP) Lab at Penn State University, directed by Dr. Daryl Cameron.  We study the affective and motivational mechanisms involved in empathy and moral decision-making.  Our lab utilizes insights and methodologies from affective science, social cognition, and moral philosophy, in order to understand how people think about and respond to pressing social and ethical situations.

Some of the particular questions we focus on include why does empathy fail in response to mass suffering and during conflicts, and what can we do about it?  Why do people engage in blame and punishment, and how does outrage motivate people to engage in collective action?  For short and accessible introductions to our work, check out the Penn State Research article on our approach to motivated empathy, the release about our work on empathy avoidance and mental effort, the Penn State News article about our work on moral outrage, and the article in the The Conversation about the scientific and ethical ramifications of empathy deficits. Dr. Cameron wrote about empathy and politics for the Rock Ethics Institute’s “Ask an Ethicist” column, “How important is empathy in the U.S. Presidential election?” The lab recently published a blog post about moral emotions and COVID-19 for the Social Science Research Institute's "Insights from Experts" webpage.

Student Spotlight
Stephen Anderson, M.A.

Stephen Anderson, M.A. Graduate Student

Stephen is a 3rd-year graduate student in the EMP lab. He graduated from Allegheny College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Music, where he completed a senior thesis examining the influence of musically-induced empathy on visually-induced empathy. Before coming to Penn State, he worked as a Lab Manager for Kurt Gray’s Mind Perception and Morality Lab at the University of North Carolina, and was also a Research Assistant for Christopher Chabris’ and Michelle Meyer’s behavioral science lab at Geisinger Health System. Stephen is interested in the intersection of morality and mental simulation, particularly in regards to empathy.

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