For more information about Dr. Vaish's research please visit
Humans are inordinately cooperative beings, and our ultra-cooperative, moral nature is thought to account for our success as a species. My research focuses on the ontogenetic emergence of the moral emotions, cognitions, and behaviors that make children successful cooperators. This includes the emergence of social emotions such as sympathy and guilt, of moral evaluations, and of moral behaviors such as prosocial behavior and the enforcement of moral norms. Of particular interest are children’s understanding of and responses to third-party moral situations as these are the litmus test for agent-neutral morality, which may well be unique to humans.
My other research interests include infant social referencing, children's understanding of others’ desires as an early form of theory of mind, and the development of the negativity bias.
- Tomasello, M., & Vaish, A. (2013). Origins of human cooperation and morality. Annual Reviews of Psychology, 64, 231-255.
- Hepach, R., Vaish, A., & Tomasello (2012). Young children are intrinsically motivated to see others helped. Psychological Science, 23(9), 967-972.
- Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2011). Young children’s responses to guilt displays. Developmental Psychology, 47(5), 1248-1262.
- Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2010). Young children selectively avoid helping people with harmful intentions. Child Development, 81(6), 1661-1669.
- Vaish, A., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Sympathy through affective perspective-taking and its relation to prosocial behavior in toddlers. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 534-543.
- Vaish, A., Grossmann, T., & Woodward, A. (2008). Not all emotions are created equal: The negativity bias in social-emotional development. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 383-403.
- Division 7 Dissertation Award, American Psychological Association, 2012
- Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, Society for Research in Child Development, 2011