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David DeSteno

David DeSteno

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My research programs center on the multiple roles played by emotion in the human experience.

Why do we have specific emotions? What biological and social functions do they serve? How and at what levels do emotions shape the mind and behavior? These are the basic questions that guide emotion-related research in my lab. I view discrete emotions as generally adaptive phenomena that function in a reciprocal system involving cognition and behavior. As such, emotions both guide, and are themselves influenced by, our thoughts and actions. Like most adaptive mechanisms, however, emotions may also lead to non-optimal or biased outcomes given certain contingencies. In an effort to understand the multiple roles played by the emotion system in human behavior, my colleagues and I are examining how emotions are shaped by and act upon many psychological phenomena that are of central importance to the human species. Current research focuses on the common and distinct influences of discrete emotions on various conscious and nonconscious cognitive and decision processes (e.g., risk assessment, attitude change, prejudice, moral judgment) and on the evolved and culturally-shaped characteristics and manifestations of social emotions (e.g., gratitude, jealousy, pride).

Primary Interests:

  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Research Methods, Assessment
  • Self and Identity
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Journal Articles:

  • Bartlett, M. Y., & DeSteno, D. (2006). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: Helping when it costs you. Psychological Science, 17, 319-325.
  • Baumann, J., & DeSteno, D. (in press). Emotion-guided threat detection: Expecting guns where there are none. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • DeSteno, D. (2009). Social emotions and intertemporal choice: “Hot” mechanisms for the building of social and economic capital. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 280-284.
  • DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M., Baumann, J., Williams, L., & Dickens, L. (2010). Gratitude as moral sentiment: Emotion-guided cooperation in economic exchange. Emotion, 10, 289-293.
  • DeSteno, D., Dasgupta, N., Bartlett, M. Y., & Cajdric, A. (2004). Prejudice from thin air: The effect of emotions on automatic intergroup attitudes. Psychological Science, 15, 319-324.
  • DeSteno, D., Petty, R. E., Rucker, D. D., Wegener, D. T., & Braverman, J. (2004). Discrete emotions and persuasion: The role of emotion induced expectancies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 43-56.
  • DeSteno, D., Petty, R. E., Wegener, D. T., & Rucker, D. D. (2000). Beyond valence in the perception of likelihood: The role of emotion specificity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 397-416.
  • DeSteno, D., Valdesolo, P., & Bartlett, M. Y. (2006). Jealousy and the threatened self: Getting to the heart of the green-eyed monster. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 626-641.
  • Valdesolo, P., & DeSteno, D. (in press). Synchrony and the social tuning of compassion. Emotion.
  • Valdesolo, P., & DeSteno, D. (2008). The duality of virtue: Deconstructing the moral hypocrite. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1334-1338.
  • Valdesolo, P. & DeSteno, D. (2007). Moral hypocrisy: Social groups and the flexibility of virtue. Psychological Science, 18, 689-690.
  • Valdesolo, P., & DeSteno, D. (2006). Manipulations of emotional context shape moral judgment. Psychological Science, 17, 476-477.
  • Williams, L., & DeSteno, D. (2009). Pride: Adaptive social emotion or seventh sin? Psychological Science, 20, 284-288.
  • Williams, L., & DeSteno, D. (2008). Pride and perseverance: The motivational role of pride. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 1007-1017.

Courses Taught:

  • Advanced Quantitative Analysis
  • Affect and Decision Making
  • Emotion and the Social Mind
  • Psychology of Emotion
  • Research Methods in Social Psychology
  • Social Cognition

David DeSteno
Department of Psychology
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
United States

  • Phone: (617) 373-7884
  • Fax: (617) 373-8714

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