Research summary and interests:

Much harm and inequality is brought about by people who feel morally entitled, obligated, and virtuous in their actions (Fiske & Rai, 2014). These people are not confused, they have not made a mistake, and they are not lying to themselves. Rather, genuine moral disagreement exists among people and is widespread. What is right, good, and honorable in one context or situation is deemed wrong, evil, and horrific in another (Rai & Fiske, 2011). The goals of our lab are to understand A) the origins and cultural evolution of moral values and disagreements among individuals, social groups, organizations, and institutions, and B) how to change behavior by individuals and organizations that is driven by a sense of moral obligation rather than selfishness or error.


Selected academic articles and chapters:

Rai, T. S. Material benefits crowd out moralistic punishment. (accepted at Psychological Science) link

Rai, T. S. (2021). Toward a moral psychology untethered from long-term cooperation. Comment on" The sense of should: A biologically-based framework for modeling social pressure" by Jordan E. Theriault, Liane Young, and Lisa Feldman Barrett. Physics of Life Reviews, 36, 7-8. link

Rai, T. S. (2019). Higher self-control predicts engagement in undesirable moralistic aggression. Personality and individual differences, 149, 152-156. link

Rai, T. S., & Diermeier, D. (2019). Strategic consequences of being unsympathetic: For‐profit companies benefit more than individuals from focusing on responsibility. Psychology & Marketing, 36(2), 150-156. link

Rai, T. S. (2018). Relationship regulation theory. Atlas of moral psychology, 231-240. link

Rai, T. S., Valdesolo, P., & Graham, J. (2018). Reply to Fincher et al.: Conceptual specificity in dehumanization research is a feature, not a bug. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(15), E3331-E3332. link

Rai, T. S., Valdesolo, P., & Graham, J. (2017). Dehumanization increases instrumental violence, but not moral violence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(32), 8511- 8516. link

Rai, T. S. (2017). Exile of the accidental witch: Character and intention in an uncertain social world. In Moral inferences (pp. 199-213). Psychology Press. link

Rai, T. S., & Diermeier, D. (2015). Corporations are cyborgs: Organizations elicit anger but not sympathy when they can think but cannot feel. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 126, 18-26. link

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (2014). Rational hypocrisy: A Bayesian analysis based on informal argumentation and slippery slopes. Cognitive science, 38(7), 1456-1467. link

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (2013). Exposure to moral relativism compromises moral behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(6), 995- 1001. link

Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2012). Beyond harm, intention, and dyads: Relationship regulation, virtuous violence, and metarelational morality. Psychological inquiry, 23(2), 189-193. link

Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2011). Moral psychology is relationship regulation: moral motives for unity, hierarchy, equality, and proportionality. Psychological review, 118(1), 57-75. link

Nettle, D., Panchanathan, K., Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2011). The evolution of giving, sharing, and lotteries. Current Anthropology, 52(5), 747-756. link

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (2010). Moral principles or consumer preferences? Alternative framings of the trolley problem. Cognitive Science, 34(2), 311-321. link

Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. (2010). ODD (observation-and description-deprived) psychological research. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 106. link


Working papers: