Photo of Jean Decety
Jean Decety Office: Kelly Hall 308 | Labs: Kelly Hall 310, 312, 314, 315 | Child NeuroSuite: Beecher 302, 312 Phone: (773) 834-3711 Email Interests:

Behavioral economics; developmental psychology; emotion and empathy; functional and structural neuroimaging; morality and social decision-making; political psychology and neuroscience; psychopathy; social neuroscience; social norms

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

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 head of the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, and the Director of the Child Neurosuite.


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

Recent Research / Recent Publications

Selected Publications

Decety, J. (2021). Why empathy is not a reliable source of information in moral decision making. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 30(5), 425-430.

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 - Neuroscience11(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.

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 USA112 (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 Psychiatry5, e625.

Decety, J. & Cowell, J. M. (2014). The complex relation between morality and empathy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences18(7), 337-339.

Selection of Books

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

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

The Moral Brain: A Multidisciplinary Perspective (2015).
Jean Decety and Thalia Wheatley. MIT Press.

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

The Social Neuroscience of Empathy (2009).
Jean Decety and William Ickes. MIT Press.