Prof. Jean Decety

Dr. Jean Decety is Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago and the College.

Jean Decety is a member of the Committee on Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience, an Executive Member of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, and a member of the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Neuroengineering. He is the Editor of Social Neuroscience and serves on the editorial board of Neuropsychologia, Development and Psychopathology, Frontiers in Emotion Science, as well as the Scientific World Journal in the domain of higher-level brain function. Dr. Decety is the co-director of the Brain Research Imaging Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center. His research focuses on understanding the cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms underpinning affective and emotional processing, moral decision-making, empathy, and more generally interpersonal socioemotional processes in both healthy individuals and atypical populations such as children with aggressive conduct disorder and psychopaths. This area of research combines neuroimaging methods such as functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, structural MRI, high-density ERPs, autonomic nervous system, hormones and genetics. He is also developing an animal model to investigate the neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms of empathy and prosocial behavior in rats. Recently, he became interested in examining empathy in the context of patients-physicians relationships. Clinical empathy is universally lauded. Empathy improves therapeutic relationships, increases patient satisfaction, physician wellbeing and overall improves clinical outcome. However, despite all these attributes, empathy in medicine may be hard to find. More troubling, despite the positive effects of clinical empathy, research conducted in the past decade shows that it dramatically declines during medical school. Prof. Decety started started a multi-level research project to determine the exact reasons causing empathy erosion in medical students by integrating individual personality traits, genetics, affective and cognitive understanding and functional MRI in a longitudinal perspective. Identifying these factors is critical for making evidence-based statements as well as developing targeted interventions and improve physician empathy, well-being and quality care.

Website: {Lab} Prof. Jean Decety

Website: {Faculty page} Prof. Jean Decety

Book Project: What are the limits of empathy in pain?

{Co-writing with Dr.Hillel Braude}