When, why, and how do people help members of their own social groups more than members of other groups?

One of the central issues that my work addresses is the phenomenon known as parochial altruism - the tendency both for increased cooperation and prosocial behavior within the boundaries of a group ("ingroup favouritism"), and the propensity to reject, derogate, and even harm outgroup members (“outgroup derogation").

 

What evolutionary and cognitive mechanisms drive our moral behavior in social groups?

I am interested in the ultimate and proximal mechanisms that drive prosocial behaviour in social groups. In particular, I am working on the role that reputational concerns and the desire to perform social normative actions encourages behaviour in the common interest. 

How can prosocial behaviour be encouraged?

As well as studying the causes of human prosociality. I am also interested in how we can use this insight to encourage prosocial behaviour. In particular, I am interested in the practical implications of this work for tackling large scale societal issues like environmental sustainability and poverty relief.

What are the relationships between descriptive moral psychology and normative moral theories?

My work investigates how well everyday psychological judgments accord with the injunctions of normative moral theories such as Utilitarianism, or Kantian Deontology. Most recently, I have been developing an integrative model based on contractualist moral principles.