Principal Investigator

Jason Plaks, (PhD, Columbia University, 2001)

Associate Professor 

Department of Psychology 

University of Toronto

[If you are interested in joining the lab as an M.A. student, a Ph.D. student, or a post-doctoral researcher, please contact me.]


Postdoctoral Fellow

Jeffrey Robinson

As the world becomes more interconnected, conflicting systems of moral values are increasingly coming into contact. At this point, one of two things can happen: a) moral compromise or b) moral conflict. My research focuses on identifying psychological variables that influence the type of moral values that individuals embrace and how these variables affect the likelihood of engaging in moral compromise or moral conflict.  The hope is that once these variables have been identified, they can be harnessed to increase the quality and constructiveness of moral discourse and mitigate moral conflict.  To learn more about my research, please visit my website


Current Graduate Students

Youval Aberman

Youval (UV) is researching pro-environmental attitudes and behavior change toward a sustainable lifestyle. He is investigating how to improve climate change communication by taking into account individual differences, and how to reduce the gap between intentions to act pro-environmentally and actually doing so.

William Staples

My studies examine how people view the actions of actors based on the actors’ intentions. Specifically, I want to know how someone is judged when they act while focusing on the execution of the actions versus the reason for committing the action. Along with Dr. Plaks, I am researching how factors such as race can influence these sorts of judgments.

Mengxi Dong

With Dr.Plaks, Mengxi is working to identify the neural correlates of implicit theories. Specifically, she examines whether lay beliefs about personality change (entity theorists vs. incremental theorists) can moderate conflict detection, as measured by the event-related EEG component conflict negativity or CN, when participants imagine future personality change.

Rachel Forbes

My research interests focus on morality, specifically individuals’ perceptions of others’ morality. In particular, I am interested in examining what factors lead to more positive or negative views of others’ immoral behaviour. I am also interested in examining moral emotions, moral decision-making, and morality in the workplace.

Shayne Sanscartier

Shayne’s interests lie at the intersection of strategic essentialism, implicit theories, biopolitics, the naturalistic fallacy, motivated cognition and the sociology of scientific knowledge. With Jason, he is investigating how, when, and why individuals appeal to natural science to support their moral or political arguments, as well as how individuals decide to accept or challenge these appeals.

Nina Wang

Nina’s research interests centre around morality and politics, particularly the ways in which moral values and judgments differ across the political spectrum. She is also interested in moral reasoning and beliefs about essentialism.


Lab Alumni

Xiaowen  Xu, Assistant Professor, College of William & Mary


Jeff Robinson


Caitlin Burton

Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, University of Toronto


Lori Malahy

Research Manager, Instagram


Nicole McNichols

University of Washington


Kristin Stecher