Jean Decety

  • Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry


Jean Decety is a leading scholar on the social neuroscience of empathy, morality and prosocial behavior, as well as other topics related to neurobiological underpinnings of social cognition.

His work has led to new understandings of empathy and affective processes in typically developing individuals as well as psychopaths. His research uses functional neuroimaging techniques (functional MRI, MEG and high-density EEG/ERPs) combined with eye-tracking, autonomic measures (skin conductance, heart rate variability), and genetics to examine how biological and social factors interact in contributing to empathy and the motivation to care for the well-being of others. Decety and his lab team also investigate the neurodevelopment of empathy and moral reasoning in children and adolescents, as well as clinical empathy in medical students and practicing physicians.

Decety is an executive committee member of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, and a member of the Committee on Neurobiology, and of the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Neuroengineering. He is editor of the journal Social Neuroscience and serves on the editorial boards of Development and Psychopathology, Neuropsychologia, Frontiers in Emotion, as well as the Scientific World Journal in the domain of higher-level brain function. He is the co-founder of the Society for Social Neuroscience.

Decety is co-director of the Brain Research Imaging Center at the University of Chicago Medicine and is head of the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory and director of the Child NeuroSuite at the University of Chicago.