Irving B. Harris Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and the College

Office phone: (773) 834-3711
Fax: (773) 702-0886
Office: Kelly Hall 308
Labs: Kelly Hall 310, 312, 314, 315
Child NeuroSuite: Beecher 302, 312


Jean Decety is the Irving B. Harris Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and the College.

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

Dr. Decety is the Director of the Child Neurosuite and head of the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.

Research Interests and Skills

  • Affective neuroscience
  • Behavioral economics
  • Developmental social neuroscience
  • Developmental psychology
  • Emotion and empathy
  • Functional and structural neuroimaging
  • Morality
  • Political neuroscience
  • Psychopathy
  • Social decision-making

Selection of Recent Publications

Workman, C. I., Yoder, K. J., & Decety, J. (2020). The dark side of morality – Neural mechanisms underpinning moral convictions and judgments about violence. American Journal of Bioethics - Neuroscience, 11(4), 269-284.

Decety, J. (2020). Empathy in medicine: What it is, and how much we really need it. American Journal of Medicine, 133, 561-566.

Yoder, K. J. & Decety, J. (2018). The neuroscience of morality and social decision-making. Psychology, Crime & Law, 24 (3), 279-295.

Cowell, J. & Decety, J. (2015). Precursors to morality in development as a complex interplay between neural, socio-environmental, and behavioral facets. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 112 (41), 12657-12662.

Yoder, K. J., Harenski, C., Kiehl, K. A., & Decety, J. (2015). Neural networks underlying implicit and explicit moral evaluations in psychopathy. Translational Psychiatry, 5, e625.

Decety, J. & Cowell, J. M. (2014). The complex relation between morality and empathy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(7), 337-339.

Edited Books

The Social Brain – A Developmental Perspective (2020). J. Decety (Ed). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Social Cognition: Development Across the Life Span (2017). J. Sommerville and J. Decety (Eds). Routledge.

The Moral Brain: A Multidisciplinary Perspective (2015). J. Decety and T. Wheatley (Eds). MIT Press.

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

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

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

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

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


  • The bright and the dark sides of empathy
  • The Mind
  • Multidisciplinary perspectives on morality
  • Neuroscience and the media: How to separate the wheat from the chaff
  • Social Neuroscience
  • The psychopathic mind: mad or bad?

More Information

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