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The University of Chicago
Department of Psychology
5848 South University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Office Phone: (773) 834-3711
Fax: (773) 702-0886
Office: Kelly Hall, 308
Labs: Kelly Hall, 310, 312, 314 and 315
Child Neurosuite: Beecher 302 and 312
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Jean Decety


Dr. Jean Decety is Irving B. Harris Professor at the University of Chicago and the College, with a primary appointment in the Department of Psychology and a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry.

He previously was a research director at the INSERM (National Medical Research Institute) in Lyon, France until 2001, and professor at the University of Washington, Seattle (2001-2005).

Professor Decety received a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University Claude Bernard (France) in 1989, and then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Sweden, at Lunds Lasarett (University Hospital) and at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm in the Departments of Clinical Neurophysiology and Neuroradiology.

Jean Decety is a member of the Committee on Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience, and a member of The Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Neuroengineering. He was the founder and Editor of the journal Social Neuroscience and serves on the editorial board of Neuropsychologia, Development and Psychopathology, as well as Frontiers in Emotion Science. Jean Decety is the current president of the Society for Social Neuroscience.

Dr. Decety is the Director of the Brain Research Imaging Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, and the Director of the Child NeuroSuite.


Research Interests and Skills

  • Altruism and prosocial behavior
  • Affective neuroscience
  • Conduct disorder
  • Developmental social neuroscience
  • Emotion
  • Empathy
  • Functional neuroimaging (EEG/ERPs, fMRI, DTI)
  • Justice sensitivity
  • Moral judgment and decision-making
  • Psychopathy
  • Social neuroscience


Selection of Recent Publications

Yoder, K. J., & Decety, J. (2014). The good, the bad, and the just: Justice sensitivity predicts neural response during moral evaluation of actions performed by others. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(12), 4161-4166.

Decety, J., Chen, C., Harenski, C. L., & Kiehl, K. A. (2013). An fMRI study of affective perspective taking in individuals with psychopathy: imagining another in pain does not evoke empathy. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7:489.

Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Abu-Akel, A., Palgi, S.,  Sulieman, R., Fischer-Shofty,  M. Levkwitz, Y., & Decety, J. (2013). Giving peace a chance: Oxytocin increases empathy to pain in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(12), 3139-3144.

Li, Y., Li, H., Decety, J., & Lee, K. (2013). Experiencing a natural disaster alters children's altruistic giving. Psychological Science, 24(9), 1686-1689.

Decety, J., Skelly, L. R., & Kiehl, K. A. (2013). Brain response to empathy-eliciting scenarios involving pain in incarcerated individuals with psychopathy. JAMA Psychiatry, 70, 638-645.

Decety, J., & Howard, L. H. (2013). The role of affect in the neuro-development of morality. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 49-54.

Decety, J., & Cacioppo, S. (2012). The speed of morality: A high-density electrical neuroimaging study. Journal of Neurophysiology, 108, 3068–3072.

Cheng, Y., Hung, A., & Decety, J. (2012). Dissociation between affective sharing and emotion understanding in juvenile psychopaths. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 623-636.

Decety, J., Michalska, K. J., & Kinzler, K. D. (2012). The contribution of emotion and cognition to moral sensitivity: A neurodevelopmental study. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 209-220.

Decety, J., & Sveltova, M. (2012). Putting together phylogenetic and ontogenetic perspectives on empathy. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2, 1-24.

Cheng, Y., Chen, H. Y., Wang, P., & Decety, J. (2012). Voice and emotion processing in the human neonatal brain. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 1411-1419.

Ben-Ami Bartal, I., Decety, J., & Mason, P. (2011). Empathy and pro-social behavior in rats. Science, 334, 1427-1430.

Decety, J. (2011). The neuroevolution of empathy. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1231, 35-45.

Cacioppo, J. T., & Decety, J. (2011). Challenges and opportunities in social neuroscience. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1224, 162-173.


Selection of Book Chapters

Decety, J. & Howard, L. (2013). A neurodevelopmental perspective on morality. In M. Killen and J. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of Moral Development (pp. 454-474). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Decety, J. (2011). Neuroscience of empathic responding. In S. Brown, L. Perner and R. Brown (Eds.), Self Interest and Beyond: Toward a New Understanding of Human Caregiving (pp. 109-132). New York: Oxford University Press.


Books as an Editor

The Moral Brain (in preparation). J. Decety and T. Wheatley (Eds). Cambridge: MIT Press.

New Frontiers in Social Neuroscience (2014). J. Decety and Y. Christen (Eds). New York: Springer.

Empathy: from Bench to Bedside (2012). J. Decety (Ed). Cambridge: MIT press.

The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience (2011). J. Decety and J. T.  Cacioppo. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Social Neuroscience of Empathy (2009). J. Decety and W. Ickes.Cambridge: MIT Press.

Interpersonal Sensitivity: Entering Others' World (2007). J. Decety and C. D.  Batson. Hove: Psychology Press.



  • Developmental social neuroscience
  • The empathic brain
  • Functional neuroimaging workshop
  • The Mind III (empathy, caring and altruism)
  • The moral brain
  • Neuroscience and the media
  • Windows into the social brain


More Information

Dr. Jean Decety's Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab and Child NeuroSuite.

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