Kurt Gray

Kurt Gray
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | UNC · Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

PhD, Harvard University

About

153
Publications
139,200
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6,990
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2012 - present
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (153)
Article
Robots are transforming organizations, with pundits forecasting that robots will increasingly perform managerial tasks. One such key managerial task is the evaluation and delivery of feedback regarding an employee's performance, including negative feedback. However, within this context of delivering negative feedback, we suggest that anthropomorphi...
Article
Anti-racist messages educate people about structural racism and argue that indifference and inaction are the foundational building-blocks of race-based inequities. But these messages generate backlash, with several American states banning education about structural racism. We hypothesized that White Americans experience White identity threat and re...
Preprint
Moral dilemmas are central to moral psychology, with hundreds of papers using variants of the trolley problem. The popular Dual Process Model (DPM) understands moral dilemmas as a conflict between two (natural) kinds of mind—an intuitive deontological mind, and a reasoned utilitarian mind. An alternative theory—the Theory of Dyadic Morality (TDM)—m...
Preprint
Robots are transforming organizations, with pundits forecasting that robots will increasingly perform managerial tasks. One such key managerial task is the evaluation and delivery of feedback regarding an employee’s performance, including negative feedback. However, within this context of delivering negative feedback, we suggest that anthropomorphi...
Article
Companies and governments are using algorithms to improve decision-making for hiring, medical treatments, and parole. The use of algorithms holds promise for overcoming human biases in decision-making, but they frequently make decisions that discriminate. Media coverage suggests that people are morally outraged by algorithmic discrimination, but he...
Preprint
Anti-racist messages educate people about structural racism and argue that indifference and inaction are the foundational building-blocks of race-based inequities. But these messages generate backlash, with several American states banning education about structural racism. We hypothesized that White Americans experience White identity threat and re...
Article
Full-text available
Moral psychology has long debated whether moral judgment is rooted in harm vs. affect. We reconcile this debate with the Affective Harm Account (AHA) of moral judgment. The AHA understands harm as an intuitive perception (i.e., perceived harm), and divides "affect" into two: embodied visceral arousal (i.e., gut feelings) and stimulus-directed affec...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rising partisan animosity is linked to less support for democracy and more support for political violence. Here we provide a multi-level review of interventions designed to improve partisan animosity, which we define as negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards a political outgroup. We introduce the TRI framework for the three levels of in...
Article
Full-text available
Affective polarization is a rising threat to political discourse and democracy. Public figures have expressed that “conservatives think liberals are stupid, and liberals think conservatives are evil." However, four studies (N=1,660)—including a representative sample—reveal evidence that both sides view political opponents as more unintelligent than...
Article
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Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors associated with public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and str...
Preprint
Efforts to bridge political divides often focus on navigating complex and divisive issues. However, nine studies suggest that we should also focus on a more basic moral divide: the erroneous belief that political opponents lack a fundamental sense of right and wrong. This “basic morality bias” is tied to political dehumanization and is revealed by...
Article
Full-text available
Robots are becoming more available for workplace collaboration, but many questions remain. Are people actually willing to assign collaborative tasks to robots? And if so, exactly which tasks will they assign to what kinds of robots? Here we leverage psychological theories on person-job fit and mind perception to investigate task assignment in human...
Preprint
Americans disagree about many things, including what threats are most pressing. We suggest people morally condemn and dehumanize opponents when they are perceived as rejecting the existence or severity of important perceived threats. We explore perceived “threat rejection”across five studies (N=2,404) both in the real-world COVID-19 pandemic and in...
Article
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People experience “collective autonomy restriction” when they believe other groups want to restrict their own group from freely expressing its social identity and determining its behavior. We review emerging research on the negative consequences of collective autonomy restriction for well-being, as well as its implications for group members' motiva...
Preprint
Full-text available
People experience “collective autonomy restriction” when they believe other groups want to restrict their own group from freely expressing its social identity and determining its behavior. We review emerging research on the negative consequences of collective autonomy restriction for well-being, as well as its implications for group members’ motiva...
Preprint
Synthesizing research on wisdom and a real-world practitioner intervention, we develop/test a strategy for presenting political views that fosters cross-partisan respect. This strategy—balanced pragmatism—combines two aspects of “wise reasoning:” balancing multiple interests and seeking pragmatic solutions. Studies 1-3 (N = 1187) demonstrate that p...
Preprint
Why has fiction been so successful over time? We make the case that fiction may have properties that enhance both individual and group level fitness by (a) allowing risk-free simulation of important scenarios, (b) effectively transmitting solutions to common problems, and (c) enhancing group cohesion through shared consumption of fictive worlds.
Article
Full-text available
Morality is core to people’s identity. Existing moral identity scales measure good/moral vs. bad/immoral, but the Theory of Dyadic Morality highlights two-dimensions of morality: valence (good/moral vs. bad/immoral) and agency (high/agent vs. low/recipient). The Moral Identity Picture Scale (MIPS) measures this full space through 16 vivid pictures....
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has extensively changed the state of psychological science from what research questions psychologists can ask to which methodologies psychologists can use to investigate them. In this article, we offer a perspective on how to optimize new research in the pandemic’s wake. Because this pandemic is inherently a social phenomenon—...
Preprint
Supernatural beliefs are common in every human society, and people frequently invoke the supernatural to explain natural (e.g., storms, disease outbreaks) and social (e.g., murder, warfare) events. However, evolutionary and psychological theories of religion raise competing hypotheses about whether supernatural explanations should more commonly foc...
Article
Organizations—especially small businesses—are vulnerable to social and economic upheaval. When misfortune befalls organizations, how much do we empathize with them? Here we present a framework for understanding the causes, mechanisms, and consequences of empathy for organizations. One key cause of empathy is framing: Although any organization is co...
Article
Full-text available
People often make judgments of others' moral character-an inferred moral essence that presumably predicts moral behavior. We first define moral character and explore why people make character judgments before outlining three key elements that drive character judgments: behavior (good vs. bad, norm violations, and deliberation), mind (intentions, ex...
Article
Humanoid robots are often experienced as unnerving, a psychological phenomenon called the “uncanny valley.” Past work reveals that humanlike robots are unnerving in part because they are ascribed humanlike feelings. We leverage this past work to provide a potential solution to the uncanny valley. Three studies reveal that “dehumanizing” humanoid ro...
Article
Pay-it-forward programs, whereby someone receives a gift or free service and then gives a gift to another person in return, have expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide an opportunity for healthcare providers to reduce costs, increase uptake of interventions such as testing and vaccines, and promote sustainability.
Preprint
Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms hold promise to reduce inequalities across race and socioeconomic status. One of the most important domains of racial and economic inequalities is medical outcomes; Black and low-income people are more likely to die from many diseases. Algorithms can help reduce these inequalities because they are less likely...
Article
Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms hold promise to reduce inequalities across race and socioeconomic status. One of the most important domains of racial and economic inequalities is medical outcomes; Black and low-income people are more likely to die from many diseases. Algorithms can help reduce these inequalities because they are less likely...
Preprint
Purity is an important topic in psychology. It has a long history in moral discourse, has helped catalyze paradigm shifts in moral psychology, and is thought to underlie political differences. But what exactly is “purity?” To answer this question, we review the history of purity and then systematically examine 158 psychology papers that define and...
Article
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Both liberals and conservatives believe that using facts in political discussions helps to foster mutual respect, but 15 studies-across multiple methodologies and issues-show that these beliefs are mistaken. Political opponents respect moral beliefs more when they are supported by personal experiences, not facts. The respect-inducing power of perso...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have believed in gods and spirits since the earliest days of our species, and many people still believe in them today. Although the existence of religious belief has been a human constant, the nature and prevalence of religion has changed dramatically throughout human history. Here we describe the emerging science of religious change. We fir...
Article
Full-text available
Billions of people from around the world believe in vengeful gods who punish immoral behavior. These punitive religious beliefs may foster prosociality and contribute to large-scale cooperation, but little is known about how these beliefs emerge and why people adopt them in the first place. We present a cultural-psychological model suggesting that...
Chapter
We present an autoencoder-based semi-supervised approach to classify perceived human emotions from walking styles obtained from videos or motion-captured data and represented as sequences of 3D poses. Given the motion on each joint in the pose at each time step extracted from 3D pose sequences, we hierarchically pool these joint motions in a bottom...
Preprint
Full-text available
Religion is an enduring part of human culture, but religious belief is declining in some societies. What explains which regions secularize and which individuals leave their faiths? We propose that secularization is inversely related to the “moralization of religion:” the belief that religion is essential to morality. Moralization of religiosity lik...
Article
Organizations are increasingly relying on service robots to improve efficiency, but these robots often make mistakes, which can aggravate customers and negatively affect organizations. How can organizations mitigate the frontline impact of these robotic blunders? Drawing from theories of anthropomorphism and mind perception, we propose that people...
Article
Full-text available
Does religion make people good or bad? We suggest that there are at least three distinct profiles of religious morality: the Cooperator, the Crusader, and the Complicit. Cooperators forego selfishness to benefit others, crusaders harm outgroups to bolster their own religious community, and the complicit use religion to justify selfish behavior and...
Preprint
Full-text available
Religion and science are two major sources of knowledge. Some accounts suggest that religious belief inhibits people from trusting scientific information, and encourages conflict between religion and science. We draw from theories of human motivation to challenge this claim, instead suggesting that religious people perceive less conflict between sc...
Article
Patterns of discrimination are often complex (i.e., multiplicative), with different identities combining to yield especially potent discrimination. For example, Black men are disproportionately stopped by police to a degree that cannot be explained by the simple (i.e., additive) effects of being Black and being male. Researchers often posit corresp...
Article
Full-text available
COVID-19 threatens lives, livelihoods, and civic institutions. Although restrictive public health behaviors such as social distancing help manage its impact, these behaviors can further sever our connections to people and institutions that affirm our identities. Three studies ( N = 1,195) validated a brief 10-item COVID-19 Threat Scale that assesse...
Preprint
Full-text available
Billions of people from around the world believe in vengeful gods who punish immoral behavior. These punitive religious beliefs may foster prosociality and contribute to large-scale cooperation, but little is known about how these beliefs emerge and why people adopt them in the first place. We present a cultural-psychological model suggesting that...
Article
Forward flow is a new measure that quantifies free thought and predicts creativity (Gray et al., 2019). In his comment, Rossiter (2020) raises some conceptual and measurement concerns about this measure. We believe these concerns are specious, resting on fundamental misunderstandings about our aim and approach. This reply clarifies the nature of fo...
Article
Patterns of discrimination are often complex (i.e., multiplicative), such that different identities combine to yield especially potent discrimination. For example, Black men are disproportionately stopped by police to a degree that cannot be explained by simple (i.e., additive) effects of being Black and being male. Researchers often posit correspo...
Preprint
Patterns of discrimination are often complex (i.e., multiplicative), such that different identities combine to yield especially potent discrimination. For example, Black men are disproportionately stopped by police to a degree that cannot be explained by simple (i.e., additive) effects of being Black and being male. Researchers often posit correspo...
Article
Full-text available
Immortality is thought to be achieved through heroic deeds, reincarnation, and the afterlife. The present studies reveal an alternative path to transcending death: dying while conscious. Seven studies demonstrate that dying while more awake, aware and/or lucid leads people to see a richer postmortem mind—an effect we call conservation of consciousn...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Doctors are generally thought of as very intelligent and capable. This perception has upsides—doctors are afforded respect and esteem—but it may also have downsides, such as neglecting the mental and physical health of physicians. Two studies examine how Americans “typecast” doctors as Godlike “thinkers” who help others, rather than as vu...
Preprint
Full-text available
COVID-19 threatens lives, livelihoods, and civic institutions. Although public health initiatives (i.e., social distancing) help manage its impact, these initiatives can further sever our connections to people and institutions that affirm our identities. Three studies (N=1,195) validated a brief 10-item COVID-19 threat scale that assesses 1) realis...
Preprint
Full-text available
The use of algorithms hold promise for overcoming human biases in decision making. Companies and governments are using algorithms to improve decision-making for hiring, medical treatments, and parole. Unfortunately, as with humans, some of these algorithms make persistently biased decisions, functionally discriminating people based on their race an...
Preprint
We present a data-driven deep neural algorithm for detecting deceptive walking behavior using nonverbal cues like gaits and gestures. We conducted an elaborate user study, where we recorded many participants performing tasks involving deceptive walking. We extract the participants' walking gaits as series of 3D poses. We annotate various gestures p...
Article
Full-text available
Ethical leadership research has primarily relied on social learning and social exchange theories. Although these theories have been generative, additional theoretical perspectives hold the potential to broaden scholars’ understanding of ethical leadership’s effects. In this paper, we examine moral typecasting theory and its unique implications for...
Article
We present a data-driven algorithm for generating gaits of virtual characters with varying dominance traits. Our formulation utilizes a user study to establish a data-driven dominance mapping between gaits and dominance labels. We use our dominance mapping to generate walking gaits for virtual characters that exhibit a variety of dominance traits w...
Article
Full-text available
Automation is becoming ever more prevalent, with robot workers replacing many human employees. Many perspectives have examined the economic impact of a robot workforce, but here we consider its social impact: how will the rise of robot workers affect intergroup relations? Whereas some past research suggests that more robots will lead to more interg...
Article
Full-text available
Do people generally view others as good or evil? Although people generally cooperate with others and view others' "true selves" as intrinsically good, we suggest that they are likely to assume that the actions of others are evil-at least when they are ambiguous. Nine experiments provide support for promiscuous condemnation: the general tendency to...
Article
Full-text available
Religion shapes the nature of intergroup conflict, but conflict may also shape religion. Four multi-method studies reveal the impact of conflict on religious belief: The threat of warfare and intergroup tensions increase the psychological need for order and rule-following, which leads people to view God as more punitive. Studies 1 (N = 372) and 2 (...
Conference Paper
We present a novel, real-time algorithm, EVA, for generating virtual agents with various perceived emotions. Our approach is based on using Expressive Features of gaze and gait to convey emotions corresponding to happy, sad, angry, or neutral. We precompute a data-driven mapping between gaits and their perceived emotions. EVA uses this gait emotion...
Article
Full-text available
Moral psychology uses tightly controlled scenarios in which the identities of the characters are either unspecified or vague. Studies with raceless genderless strangers help to highlight the important structural elements of moral acts (e.g., intention, causation, harm), but may not generalize to real-world judgments. As researchers have long shown,...
Article
Full-text available
We present a new approach for improving the friendliness and warmth of a virtual agent in an AR environment by generating appropriate movement characteristics. Our algorithm is based on a novel data-driven friendliness model that is computed using a user-study and psychological characteristics. We use our model to control the movements correspondin...
Article
Full-text available
It is often unclear how to apportion praise after a group's success and blame after a group's failure. Should all members share responsibility or only a select few? In this paper, we examine how people do solve this apportionment problem, and how they should solve this problem. Seven empirical studies (total N = 1,052) reveal that people frequently...
Article
Full-text available
When the human mind is free to roam, its subjective experience is characterized by a continuously evolving stream of thought. Although there is a technique that captures people’s streams of free thought—free association—its utility for scientific research is undermined by two open questions: 1) How can streams of thought be quantified? and 2) Do su...
Preprint
We present a novel, real-time algorithm, EVA, for generating virtual agents with various perceived emotions. Our approach is based on using Expressive Features of gaze and gait to convey emotions corresponding to happy, sad, angry, or neutral. We precompute a data-driven mapping between gaits and their perceived emotions. EVA uses this gait emotion...
Preprint
We present a new approach for improving the friendliness and warmth of a virtual agent in an AR environment by generating appropriate movement characteristics. Our algorithm is based on a novel data-driven friendliness model that is computed using a user-study and psychological characteristics. We use our model to control the movements correspondin...
Preprint
Full-text available
We present a new data-driven model and algorithm to identify the perceived emotions of individuals based on their walking styles. Given an RGB video of an individual walking, we extract his/her walking gait in the form of a series of 3D poses. Our goal is to exploit the gait features to classify the emotional state of the human into one of four emo...