Dr. Harris’research uses a social neuroscience approach to explore the neural correlates of person perception, prejudice, dehumanization, anthropomorphism, social learning, social emotions, empathy, and punishment. This research addresses questions such as: How do we see people as less than human, and non human objects as human beings? How do we modulate affective responses to people? How do we decide right from wrong? By combining social psychology, affective and cognitive neuroscience with philosophy of mind, developmental psychology, evolutionary anthropology, economics, law and policy, this research focus is a comprehensive strategy to explore human behavior.
Humanized perception is malleable because people can take away human attributes like mental life from other people, but imbue mental lives to animals and objects that presumably lack minds (like ours); people make internal attributions to objects for behavior just as readily as they do to people. Dr. Harris explores the separate yet overlapping neural networks involved when people make attriutions to people, animals and objects. Moreover the lab examines the affective correlates of these processes and their subsequent influence on helping, punishment, and social decision-making.
- Looking with different eyes: The psychological meaning of categorization goals moderates selective processing of facial expression of emotion (2015)
- Sticking with the nice guy: Trait warmth information impairs learning and modulates person perception brain network activity (2014)
- Why economic, health, legal, and immigration policy should consider dehumanization, Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences (2014)