Amrisha Vaish

Amrisha Vaish
University of Virginia | UVa · Department of Psychology

About

73
Publications
28,712
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3,539
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - present
University of Virginia
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)

Publications

Publications (73)
Article
Young children robustly distinguish between moral norms and conventional norms (Smetana, 1984; Yucel et al., 2020). In existing research, norms about the fair distribution of resources are by definition considered part of the moral domain; they are not distinguished from other moral norms such as those involving physical harm. Yet an understanding...
Article
The current study examined the development of fairness behavior and tested whether children’s fair choices are fast and intuitive or slow and deliberate. Reaction times were measured while 4- to 9-year-olds (N = 94, 49 girls, 84.6% White) completed a novel social decision-making task contrasting fair choices with selfish choices. Fairness behavior...
Article
Gratitude is a positive social emotion that one experiences when one has benefited from another person's goodwill (McCullough, 2002). Feeling gratitude urges the grateful person to reciprocate and respond prosocially, thereby solidifying cooperation. Yet little prior research has focused on the social functions of displaying gratitude, namely to co...
Chapter
Full-text available
Humans have evolved to be highly interdependent: We rely heavily on one another to survive and succeed as individuals and as a species. This interdependence has meant, in turn, the need to ensure the well-being of those with whom we are – or could potentially be – interdependent.
Article
Forgiveness helps repair ruptured relationships and maintain cooperation. It may most usefully serve these functions when it is preferentially directed toward better cooperators. We examined this proposal in two studies with young children. Study 1 asked whether children forgive in-group members (whom people generally expect to be more cooperative)...
Preprint
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When we commit transgressions, we need to be forgiven to restore our friendships and social standing. Two main ways we can elicit forgiveness is through asking for forgiveness after committing a transgression (i.e., retrospective elicitors) or before committing a transgression (i.e., prospective elicitors). Research on retrospective elicitors with...
Article
Full-text available
When we commit transgressions, we need to be forgiven to restore our friendships and social standing. Two main ways we can elicit forgiveness is through asking for forgiveness after committing a transgression (i.e., retrospective elicitors) or before committing a transgression (i.e., prospective elicitors). Research on retrospective elicitors with...
Article
Full-text available
In Fig. 2 of the aforementioned article the mean value of the “chair” condition is incorrectly displayed as 0.011 when it should be 0.008. All statistics in the text are correct, and the conclusions remain the same. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Article
Full-text available
Chimpanzees help conspecifics achieve their goals in instrumental situations, but neither their immediate motivation nor the evolutionary basis of their motivation is clear. In the current study, we gave chimpanzees the opportunity to instrumentally help a conspecific to obtain food. Following recent studies with human children, we measured their p...
Article
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The study of young children’s prosocial emotions, especially as they regulate children’s social interactions toward cooperative ends, is burgeoning. We join Algoe (2020) and Tsang (2020) in their assessment that early ontogeny provides a unique window into the study of prosocial emotions, and that the behavioural methods developed to study prosocia...
Article
Full-text available
Tomasello offers a compelling account of the emergence of humans’ sense of obligation. We suggest that more needs to be said about the role of affect in the creation of obligations. We also argue that positive emotions such as gratitude evolved to encourage individuals to fulfill cooperative obligations without the negative quality that Tomasello p...
Article
Full-text available
From a young age, children understand and enforce moral norms, which are aimed at preserving the rights and welfare of others. Children also distinguish moral norms from other types of norms such as conventional norms, which serve to ensure coordination within social groups or institutions. However, far less is known about the mechanisms driving th...
Article
Two studies investigated the development and motivations underlying children's upstream reciprocity. In Study 1, 3- and 4-year-olds (n = 40 per age group) received or did not receive help while playing a game. Subsequently, children could share stickers with a new child. The 4-year-olds, but not the 3-year-olds, showed evidence of upstream reciproc...
Article
Humans rely heavily on their prosocial relationships. We propose that the experience and display of prosocial emotions evolved to regulate such relationships through inhibiting individual selfishness in service of others. Two emotions in particular serve to meet two central requirements for upholding prosociality: gratitude motivates maintenance of...
Article
Cooperative behavior is central to human societies. Human adults who reach their cooperative decisions more rapidly and independently of cognitive control display greater levels of prosocial behavior. This is taken to show that cooperation is guided by intuitive processes rather than by active control of selfish impulses. The current study investig...
Article
The 3 papers by Hammond and Drummond (2019), LoBue and Adolph (2019), and Stern, Botdorf, Cassidy, and Riggins (2019) bring into focus some of the exciting and promising new directions emerging in the field of emotional development. This commentary urges researchers moving in these new directions to leverage what is already known about emotional de...
Article
A natural reaction to receiving help from someone is to help that person in return. In two studies, we investigated the developmental origins of children's motivation to return help. In Study 1, 18- and 24-month-old toddlers were either helped or not helped by an adult, and they could subsequently provide that adult with help or else observe anothe...
Article
Forgiveness helps to repair relationships and thus helps maintain cooperation. Might forgiveness also convey to others that the forgiver is a valuable cooperation partner? We propose that if victims' forgiveness displays have evolved as important social cues that help uphold cooperation, then even young children might respond positively to forgiven...
Article
Full-text available
Humans often behave more prosocially when being observed in person and even in response to subtle eye cues, purportedly to manage their reputation. Previous research on this phenomenon has employed the "watching eyes paradigm," in which adults displayed greater prosocial behavior in the presence of images of eyes versus inanimate objects. However,...
Article
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By 3 years of age, children tattle about rule violations they observe, even as unaffected bystanders. It is argued that tattling is one way in which children enforce norms and that in the long term, it helps sustain co‐operation (e.g., Vaish, Missana, & Tomasello, 2011). However, an alternative explanation could be that children are worried that th...
Article
'Much research has investigated children's understanding of others' mental states in terms of beliefs, but far less is known about their understanding of others' desires. To fill this gap, we used an eye-tracking paradigm to test 2-year-old children's desire understanding by measuring their anticipatory looking behavior as well as changes in their...
Article
Full-text available
To enhance their reputations, adults and even 5-year-old children behave more prosocially when being observed by others. However, it remains unknown whether children younger than five also manage their reputations. One established paradigm for assessing reputation management is the ‘watching eyes paradigm,’ in which adults have been found to be mor...
Article
Full-text available
Humans depend greatly on our cooperative relationships. Thus, when our relationships are damaged by transgressions, they need to be repaired. Such repair requires that the transgressor show remorse and the victim forgive. Previous research demonstrates that as transgressors, young children show remorse and attempt to repair the harm they caused. Ho...
Article
Young children engage in direct reciprocity, but the mechanisms underlying such reciprocity remain unclear. In particular, prior work leaves unclear whether children's reciprocity is simply a response to receiving benefits (regardless of whether the benefits were intended) or driven by a mechanism of rewarding or preferring all benefactors (regardl...
Article
Children are motivated to help others from an early age. However, little is known about the internal biological mechanisms underlying their motivation to help. Here, we compiled data from five separate studies in which children, ranging in age from 18 months to 5.5 years, witnessed an adult needing help. In all studies, we assessed both (1) childre...
Article
Eyes play a vital role in human social interactions. In fact, some prior work indicates that simply the presence of eyes or eye-like stimuli increases people's prosocial behavior, arguably because the eyes serve as cues of being watched and thus elicit reputational concerns. The current study was designed to address two questions in this regard. Fi...
Article
To safeguard human cooperation, it is vital that when cooperative relationships break down, they are repaired. This requirement is met by the social emotion of guilt, at two levels: The experience of guilt motivates transgressors to repair the damage they have caused, and transgressors’ displays of guilt appease victims and bystanders and elicit co...
Poster
Yucel, N. M. & Vaish, A. (April, 2017). Young children tattle to enforce cooperative norms. Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Austin, TX.
Poster
Yucel, N. M. & Vaish, A. (January, 2017). Children’s norm enforcement behavior and its temperamental correlates. Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.
Article
Much is known about young children’s helping behavior, but little is known about the underlying motivations and emotions involved. In 2 studies we found that 2-year-old children showed positive emotions of similar magnitude—as measured by changes in their postural elevation using depth sensor imaging technology—after they achieved a goal for themse...
Article
This study investigated whether young children accept responsibility for the negative actions of ingroup members. Five-year-old children watched a transgressor break someone else’s valued possession. Depending on condition, this transgressor either belonged to the same group as the child or a different group from the child. Coding of children’s non...
Article
Little is known about the flexibility of children's prosocial motivation. Here, 2- and 3-year-old children's (n = 128) internal arousal, as measured via changes in pupil dilation, was increased after they accidentally harmed a victim but were unable to repair the harm. If they were able to repair (or if they themselves did not cause the harm and th...
Article
Children's instrumental helping has sometimes been interpreted as a desire to complete action sequences or to restore the physical order of things. Two-year-old children (n = 51) selectively retrieved for an adult the object he needed rather than one he did not (but which equally served to restore the previous order of things), and those with great...
Article
Guilt serves vital prosocial functions: It motivates transgressors to make amends, thus restoring damaged relationships. Previous developmental research on guilt has not clearly distinguished it from sympathy for a victim or a tendency to repair damage in general. The authors tested 2- and 3-year-old children (N = 62 and 64, respectively) in a 2 ×...
Article
Prosocial behavior is versatile, multifaceted, and complex. This special section seeks to advance coherent, integrative understanding of prosocial development by addressing this topic through the prism of motivations. This conceptual Introduction presents key ideas that provide a framework for thinking about motivation for prosocial behavior and it...
Article
Full-text available
Altruistic behavior in humans is thought to have deep biological roots. Nonetheless, there is also evidence for considerable variation in altruistic behaviors among individuals and across cultures. Variability in altruistic behavior in adults has recently been related to individual differences in emotional responsiveness to fear in others. The curr...
Article
Research on empathic development, though extensive, has largely overlooked two vital facets of flexible empathic responding-multideterminism (which is elicited in response to various cues) and context dependence (i.e., empathic responding that can be regulated depending on contextual factors). Within a dual-process account of empathic responding (i...
Article
Full-text available
A central challenge of investigating the underlying mechanisms of and the individual differences in young children's behavior is the measurement of the internal physiological mechanism and the involved expressive emotions. Here, we illustrate two paradigms that assess concurrent indicators of both children's social perception as well as their emoti...
Article
Prior work suggests that young children do not generalize others' preferences to new individuals. We hypothesized (following Vaish et al., 2008, Psychol. Bull., 134, 383-403) that this may only hold for positive emotions, which inform the child about the person's attitude towards the object but not about the positivity of the object itself. It may...
Article
Full-text available
The fact that humans cooperate with nonkin is something we take for granted, but this is an anomaly in the animal kingdom. Our species’ ability to behave prosocially may be based on human-unique psychological mechanisms. We argue here that these mechanisms include the ability to care about the welfare of others (other-regarding concerns), to “feel...
Article
Full-text available
The negativity bias in human cognition emerges in infancy and continues throughout childhood. To fully understand the relationship between differences in attention to negative stimuli and variance in political ideologies, it is critical to consider human development and the process by which early individual differences in negativity unfold and are...
Article
Full-text available
Prosocial behaviours such as helping, comforting, or sharing are central to human social life. Because they emerge early in ontogeny, it has been proposed that humans are prosocial by nature and that from early on empathy and sympathy motivate such behaviours. The emerging question is whether humans share these abilities to feel with and for someon...
Article
Prosocial behaviours such as helping, comforting, or sharing are central to human social life. Because they emerge early in ontogeny, it has been proposed that humans are prosocial by nature and that from early on empathy and sympathy motivate such behaviours. The emerging question is whether humans share these abilities to feel with and for someon...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to effectively respond to emotional information carried in the human voice plays a pivotal role for social interactions. We examined how genetic factors, especially the serotonin transporter genetic variation (5-HTTLPR), affect the neurodynamics of emotional voice processing in infants and adults by measuring event-related brain potenti...
Article
Reports an error in "Direct and Indirect Reputation Formation in Nonhuman Great Apes and Human Children" by Esther Herrmann, Stefanie Keupp, Brian Hare, Amrisha Vaish and Michael Tomasello (Journal of Comparative Psychology, Advanced Online Publication, Jul 2, 2012, np). The title should have read "Direct and Indirect Reputation Formation in Nonhum...
Article
Young children routinely behave prosocially, but what is their motivation for doing so? Here, we review three studies which show that young children (1) are intrinsically motivated rather than motivated by extrinsic rewards; (2) are more inclined to help those for whom they feel sympathy; and (3) are not so much motivated to provide help themselves...
Article
Young children routinely behave prosocially, but what is their motivation for doing so? Here, we review three studies which show that young children (1) are intrinsically motivated rather than motivated by extrinsic rewards; (2) are more inclined to help those for whom they feel sympathy; and (3) are not so much motivated to provide help themselves...
Article
Full-text available
Three-year-old children saw an adult displaying the exact same distress in 3 different conditions: (a) the adult's distress was appropriate to a genuine harm, (b) the adult's distress was an overreaction to a minor inconvenience, and (c) there was no apparent cause for the adult's distress. Children who witnessed the adult being appropriately upset...
Article
Full-text available
Young children help other people, but it is not clear why. In the current study, we found that 2-year-old children's sympathetic arousal, as measured by relative changes in pupil dilation, is similar when they themselves help a person and when they see that person being helped by a third party (and sympathetic arousal in both cases is different fro...
Article
Full-text available
From an evolutionary perspective, morality is a form of cooperation. Cooperation requires individuals either to suppress their own selfinterest or to equate it with that of others. We review recent research on the origins of human morality, both phylogenetic (research with apes) and ontogenetic (research with children). For both time frames we prop...
Article
Humans make decisions about when and with whom to cooperate based on their reputations. People either learn about others by direct interaction or by observing third-party interactions or gossip. An important question is whether other animal species, especially our closest living relatives, the nonhuman great apes, also form reputations of others. I...
Article
Full-text available
This chapter discusses motivational factors and the contributors responsible for the empathic and prosocial behavior of young children. The reasons that people engage in prosocial behaviors, including self-benefit and society’s approval, are discussed. Empathy as an underlying prosocial behavior, along with its associated process sympathy, is studi...
Article
To learn from conspecifics, infants would be greatly advantaged by knowing when to seek information from them. Although in prior work infants used a labeler's gaze direction to infer the referent of a novel label, it was unclear whether infants in these studies recognized that they needed information or were happening upon the information by simply...
Article
Full-text available
Displaying guilt after a transgression serves to appease the victim and other group members, restore interpersonal relationships, and indicate the transgressors' awareness of and desire to conform to the group's norms. We investigated whether and when young children are sensitive to these functions of guilt displays. In Study 1, after 4- and 5-year...
Article
We investigated children's moral behaviour in situations in which a third party was harmed (the test case for possession of agent-neutral moral norms). A 3-year-old and two puppets each created a picture or clay sculpture, after which one puppet left the room. In the Harm condition, the remaining (actor) puppet then destroyed the absent (recipient)...
Article
Interacting with others by interpreting and responding to their facial expressions is an essential and early developing social skill in humans. We examined whether and how variation in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) genes is associated with 7-month-old infants' electrocortical responses to facial expression...
Article
Two studies investigated whether young children are selectively prosocial toward others, based on the others' moral behaviors. In Study 1 (N = 54), 3-year-olds watched 1 adult (the actor) harming or helping another adult. Children subsequently helped the harmful actor less often than a third (previously neutral) adult, but helped the helpful and ne...
Article
Phillips et al. (2002) suggest that by 12-14 months, infants can use a person's emotional and attentional cues to predict that person's actions. However, this work was conducted using only positive emotions, which is problematic because attention and positive emotions lead to the same prediction about a person's actions, thus leaving unclear whethe...
Article
Full-text available
In most research on the early ontogeny of sympathy, young children are presented with an overtly distressed person and their responses are observed. In the current study, the authors asked whether young children could also sympathize with a person to whom something negative had happened but who was expressing no emotion at all. They showed 18- and...
Article
Full-text available
There is ample empirical evidence for an asymmetry in the way that adults use positive versus negative information to make sense of their world; specifically, across an array of psychological situations and tasks, adults display a negativity bias, or the propensity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive inform...
Article
Participation in imagined worlds is a hallmark of the human species, and yet we know little about the context of its early emergence. The experiments reported here replicated and extended in 2 directions Lillard and Witherington's (2004) study of how mothers pretend to have snacks, across different ages of children (15- to 24-month-olds, Experiment...
Article
In Study 1, 7-month-old infants (N = 58) looked reliably more at an adult's face when she playfully pulled a toy away from them compared with when she simply handed them the toy. In Study 2, 7- and 9-month-old infants (N = 36) interacted with an adult who played a teasing game and then held a neutral or happy facial expression. Compared with a base...
Article
In two studies, the reason that infants in a novel situation look to adults was assessed. In Study 1, 10- and 13-month-old infants encountered a visual cliff that was deep (56 cm) or ambiguous (20 cm). Infants crossed the ambiguous cliff reliably faster than the deep cliff, and the first looks to mother of infants in the deep cliff condition were l...
Article
Twelve-month-old infants interacted with two strangers in a free-play context. In the Experimental condition (n = 17), one stranger (Contingent partner) vocally responded immediately to infants’ looks towards her, whereas the other (Non-contingent partner) was yoked to the Contingent partner with a 1-, 2-, or 3-s delay. In the Control condition (n...
Article
Tomasello et al. lay out a three-step ontogenetic pathway for infants' understanding of intentional action. By this account, before 9 months, infants do not understand actions as being goal directed. However, we caution against drawing strong conclusions from negative findings, and, based on recent findings, propose that a key aspect of goal knowle...
Article
To examine the influences of facial versus vocal cues on infants' behavior in a potentially threatening situation, 12-month-olds on a visual cliff received positive facial-only, vocal-only, or both facial and vocal cues from mothers. Infants' crossing times and looks to mother were assessed. Infants crossed the cliff faster with multimodal and voca...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding others' emotions is an important aspect of social and cognitive development. Past research has shown that, within the first year, infants are able to extract information from others' emotions to guide their response to an ambiguous object. Using a looking-time paradigm, we examined whether 18-month-old infants can form expectations co...

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