Dr. Emile Bruneau is a social and cognitive scientist who is director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and lead scientist at the Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab. His research is focused on better understanding the psychological and cognitive biases that drive intergroup conflict, and critically examining the impact of interventions aimed at decreasing intergroup hostility. Specifically, he focuses on the (lack of) empathy and dehumanization that often characterize intergroup conflicts, and how empathy and humanity can potentially be restored through virtual and media-based encounters with ‘the other’. His recent efforts are focused on hostility towards minority groups (e.g., Islamophobia, anti-Roma bias), and between groups in conflict (e.g., Israelis and Palestinians). His work has received funding from the UN, US Institute for Peace, Soros Foundation, DARPA, ONR, and DRAPER Laboratories.
Dr. Samantha Moore-Berg is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research bridges the areas of social psychology, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience to study links between behavior and social-cognitive processes that evolve in intergroup contexts. Her main research interests include 1) designing and implementing prejudice and discrimination reduction interventions, 2) investigating how prejudiced attitudes give way to discriminatory behaviors, and 3) isolating cognitive functions that contribute to or predict prejudiced attitudes and subsequent behaviors. Samantha received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at Temple University in 2018 and her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology at Florida State University in 2013.
I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. My research focuses on intergroup processes, intergroup conflicts, developing psychological interventions that aim to promote better intergroup relations and conflict resolution, and testing these interventions in the lab and in the field on a large scale. In my Ph.D. dissertation, I developed a new line of psychological interventions based on the “paradoxical thinking” approach and tested it in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, I am interested in studying victimhood as an interpersonal and intergroup phenomenon, and its effects on processes of conflict resolution and reconciliation.
Ally graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College with a BA in Psychology. Ally’s previous research has looked at: the effects of social norms on motivation and short term memory; the role of anticipated regret in decision-making among clinical populations; and use of music-based, mindful meditation during a preoperative informed consent process. She is excited to learn more about the neural underpinnings of ingroup-outgroup biases and how this information can be used to design interventions combating prejudice.
Melis Çakar (pronounce “meh-lease cha-car”) received her BA in Neuroscience from Pomona College in 2017. She previously researched the relationship between stress, depression and neuroplasticity and the role of verb aspect-dependent reactivation in memory reconsolidation in human subjects. Melis is currently interested in unraveling the neural basis of dehumanization of outgroup members.
Celia Guillard graduated from the University of Connecticut with degrees in Neuroscience, Political Science, and International Relations. She then interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia where she assisted with research during the trial of Ratko Mladić. She subsequently completed her M.Sc. in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, where she studied intentional harm and dehumanization during political violence. She is eager to continue investigating psychological mechanisms that facilitate political violence.
Julia Schetelig is an undergraduate Psychology and Global Management student at Earlham College (’21). She previously facilitated peace conferences in South East Asia and now works for Sky School, an NGO educating refugees, most recently in the development of a peace-building syllabus. In her past research, she has mainly focused on the social psychological effect of youth organizations as well as perceptions of gender. She is excited to expand her horizons in regards to peace and conflict studies to further develop the initiatives she is involved with.
Roman Gallardo received his BA in Psychology from Sonoma State University in 2019. His previous research has explored: the consequences harsh labeling has on dehumanizing outgroups; personality predictors of dehumanization; and racial microaggressions experienced by African American college students. Roman is currently interested in predicting empathy towards stigmatized outgroups and designing conflict resolution interventions between ingroups and outgroups.
Former Lab Members
Former Research Assistants
- Sara Stith
- Will Friend
- Dinur Aboody
Emily Falk is an Associate Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work traverses levels of analysis from individual behavior, to diffusion in group and population level media effects. In particular, Prof. Falk is interested in predicting behavior change following exposure to persuasive messages and in understanding what makes successful ideas spread (e.g. through social networks, through cultures).
Rebecca Saxe is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the department of BCS at MIT and an associate member of the McGovern Institute. Her lab studies the mechanism people use to infer and reason about another person’s states of mind, called ‘Theory of Mind’, as a case study in the deeper and broader question: how does the brain – an electrical and biological machine – construct abstract thoughts?
Nour Kteily is an Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations. His research uses the tools of social psychology to investigate how and why social hierarchy and power disparities between groups emerge, and how this influences intergroup relations and prospects for conflict resolution. He is particularly interested in investigating the psychological mechanisms, at both the individual and group levels, that predict support for challenging versus maintaining hierarchy in society.
Muniba Saleem is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of MIchigan and a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Social Research. She conducts experimental research on conflict, aggressive and prosocial behaviors, media effects, identity conflicts, and intergroup relations. Much of her work examines how people communicate, think, and interact in conflict situations at the interpersonal or intergroup level.
Diana Tamir is an assistant professor at Princeton University. She investigates questions surrounding the thoughts, cognitive processes, and behaviors that occur at the place where our internal world meets the external social world. Particular areas of interest include the tension between selfish and social motives, the way in which people think about their own minds and the minds of others, and how people use the power of imagination to conjure up simulated experiences that transcend the here-and-now.