Amrisha Vaish

Pamela Feinour Edmonds and Franklin S. Edmonds, Jr. Discovery Associate Professor in Psychology


Dr. Amrisha Vaish received her B.A. in Psychology and English from the University of Virginia in 2002, her M.A. in Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2006, and her PhD in Psychology from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Free University Berlin in 2010. Prior to starting at U.VA, she was a Dilthey Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Research Interests

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, guilt, and forgiveness; of moral evaluations of one's own and others' actions; and of moral behaviors such as helping, sharing, and the enforcement of moral norms. I have also recently begun examining more uncooperative phenomena, such as cheating and reputation enhancement, in order to expand our understanding not only of when and why cooperation works but also of when and why it doesn’t.

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.

For more information about Dr. Vaish's research click here.

Selected Publications

  • Oostenbroek, J., & Vaish, A. (in press). The emergence of forgiveness in young children. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13069
  • Yucel, N. M. & Vaish, A. (in press). Young children tattle to enforce moral norms. Social Development.
  • Kelsey, C. M., Grossmann, T., & Vaish, A. (2018). Early reputation management: Three-year-old children are more generous following exposure to eyes.Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 698. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00698
  • Vaish, A., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2016). The early emergence of guilt-motivated prosocial behavior. Child Development, 87, 1772-1782.
  • Vaish, A. (2016). Flexible concern: The development of multi-determined and context-dependent empathic responding. Child Development Perspectives, 10, 149-154. doi:10.1111/cdep.12178
  • Tomasello, M., & Vaish, A. (2013). Origins of human cooperation and morality. Annual Reviews of Psychology, 64, 231-255.
  • Vaish, A., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Sympathy through affective perspective-taking and its relation to prosocial behavior in toddlers.Developmental Psychology, 45, 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, 383-403.


  • Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions, Association for Psychological Science, 2018
  • Designated “Rising Star,” Association for Psychological Science, 2015
  • Division 7 Dissertation Award, American Psychological Association, 2012
  • Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, Society for Research in Child Development, 2011