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Cultural Foundations of Human Social Behavior

Understanding how cultural, biological mechanisms foster empathy and altruism

CHICAGO --- Joan Chiao, assistant professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, discussed her research “Cultural and Neural Basis of Empathy” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.

Her presentation was part of the symposium “Physiological and Cultural Foundations of Human Social Behavior” held Saturday, Feb. 15.

The session focused on recent findings in social neurosciences and behavioral economics on the physiological and cultural foundations of these traits of human social behavior.

Chiao has conducted extensive research on how cultural and biological forces give rise to everyday emotion and social interaction. She uses a “cultural neuroscience” framework to investigate how cultural factors influence basic psychological and neural processes underlying social behavior and emotion processing. 

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