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Vaish, Amrisha

Amrisha Vaish

Primary Appointment


Contact Information


Research Interests

The ontogenetic emergence of the moral emotions, cognitions, and behaviors that make children successful cooperators

Research Description

Humans are inordinately cooperative beings, and our ultra-cooperative, moral nature is thought to account for our success as a species. My research focuses on the ontogenetic emergence of the moral emotions, cognitions, and behaviors that make children successful cooperators. This includes the emergence of social emotions such as sympathy and guilt, of moral evaluations, and of moral behaviors such as prosocial behavior and the enforcement of moral norms. Of particular interest is children's understanding of and responses to third-party moral situations as these are the litmus test for impersonal morality, which may well be unique to humans.

My other research interests include infant social referencing, children's understanding of others? desires as an early form of theory of mind, and the development of the negativity bias.

UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research) Webpage for interested students (application can be found at the bottom of the page): Lab manager: Katrina Farris (

Selected Publications

Vaish A, Grossmann T, Woodward A, Person-centred positive emotions, object-centred negative emotions: 2-year-olds generalize negative but not positive emotions across individuals., 2015; The British journal of developmental psychology. 33(3) 391-7 PMID: 25989097 |

Kinzler KD, Vaish A, Political infants? Developmental origins of the negativity bias., 2014; The Behavioral and brain sciences. 37(3) 318 PMID: 24970440 |

Jensen K, Vaish A, Schmidt MF, The emergence of human prosociality: aligning with others through feelings, concerns, and norms., 2014; Frontiers in psychology. 5() 822 PMID: 25120521 | PMCID: PMC4114263

Liebal K, Vaish A, Haun D, Tomasello M, Does sympathy motivate prosocial behaviour in great apes?, 2014; PloS one. 9(1) e84299 PMID: 24416212 | PMCID: PMC3885567

Grossmann T, Vaish A, Franz J, Schroeder R, Stoneking M, Friederici AD, Emotional voice processing: investigating the role of genetic variation in the serotonin transporter across development., 2013; PloS one. 8(7) e68377 PMID: 23861897 | PMCID: PMC3704581

Hepach R, Vaish A, Tomasello M, Young children are intrinsically motivated to see others helped., 2012; Psychological science. 23(9) 967-72 PMID: 22851443 |

Tomasello M, Vaish A, Origins of human cooperation and morality., 2012; Annual review of psychology. 64() 231-55 PMID: 22804772 |

Vaish A, Carpenter M, Tomasello M, Young children's responses to guilt displays., 2011; Developmental psychology. 47(5) 1248-62 PMID: 21767013 |

Vaish A, Grossmann T, Woodward A, Not all emotions are created equal: the negativity bias in social-emotional development., 2008; Psychological bulletin. 134(3) 383-403 PMID: 18444702 | PMCID: PMC3652533