Alex Shaw is interested in how human beings navigate the complex social world by balancing multiple reputational concerns: being moral, honest, fair, loyal, and generous are important concerns that can conflict with other another. More specifically, he studies fairness, intellectual property, and reputation and how these things develop throughout childhood and continue to influence adults' behavior. His fairness research is focused on differentiating fairness from other forms of niceness, exploring the reputational motives that may underlie fairness, and how fairness relates to our alliance psychology. While his intellectual property research argues that we dislike idea theft mainly because it results in people falsely obtaining reputational credit.
Assoc. Prof. Shaw’s other research interests include how people react to moral hypocrisy, why people dislike intellectual property violations, how they track others' reputations, and learn to properly discount others' self-promotional strategies.