James K. Rilling, Ph.D.
Professor, Department Chair of Anthropology
I’m interested in the cultural history and evolutionary origin of human morality. I use experimental methods -grounded in cognitive neuroscience and moral psychology- to study proximate mechanisms underlying moral judgment (e.g., “What happens in our brain when we make decisions about right and wrong?”) and social learning of moral norms (e.g., “How do we learn what to value?”). Outside the lab, I cook, take photos, worship lattes, and play the piano.
Male infants are abused more frequently than female infants. I am interested in what drives this disparity in abuse rates. Specifically, our projects examine the behaviors of infants to determine what factors may differ between male and female infants. We also explore the biology and behaviors of fathers, the most frequent perpetrators of abuse, to determine how they react to male and female infants. In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, and restoring old furniture.