PETER DESCIOLI

Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Stony Brook University
pdescioli@gmail.com
Curriculum Vitae

Background

2012-2013 IFREE Postdoc Fellow in Psychology, Harvard University
2010-2012 Postdoc, Psychology and Economics, Brandeis University
2008-2010 Postdoc, Economic Science Institute, Chapman University
2003-2008 PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Research

My research investigates how the human mind uses principles of strategy to solve problems in the social world. Much of my work has focused on moral condemnation, especially the functions of third-party judgment, moralistic punishment, and moral impartiality. Another research program examines how people form alliances, how they choose their loyalties to others, and how they display and conceal loyalties. A third project looks at the psychological foundations of our sense of ownership by using a virtual environment to observe resource disputes in the laboratory. Most recently, I have been designing interactive economic games to study political behavior and institutions, including redistribution of wealth, social safety nets, pay discrimination, and voters' selfish and cooperative choices.

Publications

DeScioli, P., Shaw, A., & Delton, A. W. (in press). Share the wealth: Redistribution can increase economic efficiency. Political Behavior.

DeScioli, P., Karpoff, R., & De Freitas, J. (in press). Ownership dilemmas: The case of finders versus landowners. Cognitive Science.

Shaw, A., DeScioli, P., Barakzai, A., & Kurzban, R. (in press). Whoever is not with me is against me: The costs of neutrality among friends. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

De Freitas, J., DeScioli, P., Nemirow, J., Massenkoff, M., & Pinker, S. (in press). Kill or die: Moral judgment alters linguistic coding of causality. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Reed, L. I., & DeScioli, P. (in press). Watch out! How a fearful face adds credibility to warnings of danger. Evolution and Human Behavior.

Reed, L. I., & DeScioli, P. (in press). The communicative function of sad facial expressions. Evolutionary Psychology.

Thomas, K. A., De Freitas, J., DeScioli, P., & Pinker, S. (2016). Recursive mentalizing and common knowledge in the bystander effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 621-629. [pdf]

DeScioli, P. (2016). The side-taking hypothesis for moral judgment. Current Opinion in Psychology, 7, 23-27. [pdf]

Neuberg, S., & DeScioli, P. (2016). Prejudices: Managing perceived threats to group life. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, Second Edition (pp.704-721). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2016). Morality. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, Second Edition (pp.770-787). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

DeScioli, P., & Karpoff, R. (2015). People's judgments about classic property law cases. Human Nature, 26, 184-209. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Rosa, N. M., & Gutchess, A. H. (2015). A memory advantage for property. Evolutionary Psychology, 13, 411-423. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Massenkoff, M., Shaw, A., Petersen, M. B., & Kurzban, R. (2014). Equity or equality? Moral judgments follow the money. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281, 20142112. [pdf]

Thomas, K. A., DeScioli, P., Haque, O. S., & Pinker, S. (2014). The psychology of coordination and common knowledge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 657-676. [pdf]

Reed, L. I., DeScioli, P., & Pinker, S. (2014). The commitment function of angry facial expressions. Psychological Science, 25, 1511-1517. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., & Bokemper, S. (2014). Voting as a counter-strategy in the blame game. Psychological Inquiry, 25, 206-214. [pdf]

**DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2013). A solution to the mysteries of morality. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 477-496. [pdf]

Tybur, J. M., Lieberman, D., Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2013). Disgust: Evolved function and structure. Psychological Review, 120, 65-84. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Kurzban, R., & Todd, P. (in press). Evolved Decision Makers in Organizations. To appear in Arvey, R. D., & Colarelli, S. M. (Eds.) Biological Foundations of Organizational Behavior.

Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2013). Adaptationist punishment in humans. Journal of Bioeconomics, 15, 269-279. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., & Krishna, S. (2013). Giving to whom? Altruism in different types of relationships. Journal of Economic Psychology, 34 218-228. [pdf]

DeScioli, P. (2013). Does market competition explain fairness? Comment on A mutualistic approach to morality.Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 87-88. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Asao, K., & Kurzban. R. (2012). Omissions and byproducts across moral domains. PLoS ONE, 7, e46963.[pdf]

DeScioli, P., Gilbert, S., & Kurzban, R. (2012). Indelible victims and persistent punishers in moral cognition. Psychological Inquiry, 23, 143-149. [pdf]

Shaw, A., DeScioli, P., & Olson, K. (2012). Fairness versus favoritism in children. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 736-745. [pdf]

Kurzban, R., DeScioli, P., & Fein, D. (2012). Hamilton vs. Kant: Pitting adaptations for altruism against adaptations for moral judgment. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 323-333. [pdf]

**DeScioli, P., & Wilson, B. J. (2011). The territorial foundations of human property. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 297-304. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Christner, J., & Kurzban, R. (2011). The omission strategy. Psychological Science, 22, 442-446. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Bruening, R., & Kurzban. R. (2011). The omission effect in moral cognition: Toward a functional explanation. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 204-215. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., Kurzban, R., Koch, E. N., & Liben-Nowell, D. (2011). Best friends: Alliances, friend ranking, and the MySpace social network. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 6-8. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2011). The company you keep: Friendship decisions from a functional perspective. In Krueger, J. I. (Ed.), Social Judgment and Decision Making (pp.209-225). New York: Psychology Press. [pdf]

DeScioli, P. (2010). Heavy hearts and heads held high - A review of Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds [by Steven Vogel]. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 304-306. [pdf]

Weisbord, R. K., & DeScioli, P. (2010). The effects of donor standing on philanthropy: Insights from the psychology of gift-giving. Gonzaga Law Review, 45, 225-289. [pdf]

**DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2009). Mysteries of morality. Cognition, 112, 281-299. [pdf]

**DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2009). The alliance hypothesis for human friendship. PLoS ONE, 4, e5802. [pdf]

Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2008). Reciprocity in groups: Information-seeking in a public goods game. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38, 139-158. [pdf]

DeScioli, P. (2008). Beyond selfish and selfless [Review of Moral sentiments and material interests by H. Gintis, S. Bowles, R. Boyd, and E. Fehr (Eds.)]. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 67, 524-528. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2008). Cracking the superhero's moral code. In R. Rosenberg (Ed.), The Psychology of Superheroes (pp.245-259). Dallas, TX: BenBella Books. [amazon]

Kurzban, R., DeScioli, P., & O'Brien, E. (2007). Audience effects on moralistic punishment. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28, 75-84. [pdf]

DeScioli, P. (2007). Peering underneath the hood of morality [Review of Moral minds by M. D. Hauser]. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 306-312. [pdf]

DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2007). The games people play. In S. Gangestad & J. Simpson (Eds.), Evolution of Mind: Fundamental Questions and Controversies (pp. 130-136). New York: Guilford. [pdf ]        [amazon]

Unpublished Manuscripts

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. O. (in prep.). Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment.

Kline, R., Bokemper, S., & DeScioli, P. (in prep.). Unfair rules for unequal pay: The coordination hypothesis for procedural justice.

DeScioli, P., Cho, B., Bokemper, S. E., & Delton, A. W. (in prep.). Selfish and cooperative voting: Can the majority restrain themselves?

Thomas, K., DeScioli, P., & Pinker, S. (in prep.). Common knowledge, coordination, and the logic of self-conscious emotions.

Delton, A. W., Petersen, M. B., DeScioli, P., & Robertson, T. E. (in prep.). Compassion and support for social welfare.

DeScioli, P., & Bokemper, S. (in prep.). Intuitive political theory: People’s judgments about how groups should decide.

Del Ponte, A., & DeScioli, P. (in prep.). The orange game: A new economic game for studying spending and saving.

Bokemper, S. E., & DeScioli, P. (in prep.). Who needs help? Honest communication in a peer safety net for unemployment.

Invited Talks

DeScioli, P. (2017, March). Moral judgment and the strategies of social life. Talk given at the KLI workshop on Evolutionary Perspectives, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2017, March). Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment. Colloquium talk given at the Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

DeScioli, P. (2017, March). Simple experiments on voting, redistribution, and other political games. Talk given in the Social and Health Psychology Seminar series in the Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, New York.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2016, June). Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment. Talk given at the Center for the Study of American Politics Conference 2016, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2015, May). Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment. Talk given at the New York Area Political Psychology Meeting, Columbia University, New York, New York.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2015, March). Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment. Talk given at the NYU CESS Experimental Political Science Conference, New York, New York.

DeScioli, P. (2013, November). Function and Variation in Human Property Rules. Stony Brook University, Department of Political Science.

DeScioli, P. (2013, August). Property, Alliances, and Morality. The International Max Planck Research School on Adapting Behaviour in a Fundamentally Uncertain World. Jena, Germany.

DeScioli, P. (2013, April). The Side-Taking Function of Morality. Synthesizing the Evolutionary and Social Science Approaches to Human Cooperation: A NESCent Catalysis Meeting, Durham, NC.

DeScioli, P. (2012, November). Strategy and Counter-Strategy in Moral Cognition. Stony Brook University, Department of Political Science.

DeScioli, P. (2012, November). Strategy and Counter-Strategy in Moral Cognition. Rutgers University-Camden, Department of Psychology.

DeScioli, P. (2012, September). Strategy and Counter-Strategy in Moral Cognition. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Department of Psychology.

DeScioli, P. (2012, July). Function and Variation in Human Property Rules. University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.

DeScioli, P. (2012, April). The Territorial Foundations of Human Property. Simon Fraser University, Department of Economics.

DeScioli, P. (2012, April). People's Judgments About Classic Property Law Cases. Brandeis University, Department of Psychology.

DeScioli, P. (2012, February). Strategy and Counter-Strategy in Moral Cognition. Harvard University, Department of Psychology.

DeScioli, P. (2011, September). Strategy and Counter-Strategy in Moral Cognition. Boston University, Boston Area Moral and Social Cognition Group.

DeScioli, P. (2011, September). The Omission Strategy. Brandeis University, Department of Psychology.

DeScioli, P. (2011, February). Strategy and Counter-Strategy in Moral Cognition. University of Maryland, Developmental Science Colloquium.

DeScioli, P. (2010, November). Mysteries of Morality. Yale University, Mind and Development Lab.

DeScioli, P. (2010, October). Property Intuitions. Brandeis University, Department of Psychology.

DeScioli, P. (2010, October). Who Owns What? Understanding How People Think About Property. Brandeis University, Department of Economics.

DeScioli, P. (2010, May). Mine and Thine: The Foundations of Human Property. Fourth Annual 3UC Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior Conference, San Luis Obispo, CA.

DeScioli, P. (2010, March). Mysteries of Morality. Occidental College, The Cognitive Science Program, Remsen Bird Speaker Series.

DeScioli, P. (2010, March). Mine and Thine: The Foundations of Human Property. Brandeis University, Psychology and Economics Colloquium.

Kurzban, R., & DeScioli, P. (2009, May). Adaptationist Morality. Plenary Address, Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Fullerton, CA.

DeScioli, P. (2009, January). The Alliance Hypothesis for Human Friendship. Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

DeScioli, P. (2008, December). The Alliance Hypothesis for Human Friendship. UCLA, Behavior, Evolution, and Culture Series.

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Conference Presentations

Bokemper, S., & DeScioli, P. (2016, September). Experiments on social safety nets for unemployment. Talk given at the American Political Science Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Bokemper, S., & DeScioli, P. (2016, September). Deciding in groups. Poster presented at the Political Psychology Preconference for the American Political Science Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Bokemper, S., & DeScioli, P. (2016, May). Experiments on social safety nets. Poster presented at the Behavioral Models of Politics Conference 2016, Pittsburgh, PA.

Del Ponte, A., & DeScioli, P. (2016, May). The Orange Game: An online platform to study economic decisions. Poster presented at the Behavioral Models of Politics Conference 2016, Pittsburgh, PA.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2016, April). Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment. Talk given at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Bokemper, S., & DeScioli, P. (2016, April). Deciding in groups. Talk given at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Del Ponte, A., & DeScioli, P. (2016, April). The Orange Game: An online platform to study economic decisions. Poster presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Connors, E. C., DeScioli, P., & Ryan, T. J. (2016, April). Online studies of moral frames in abortion attitudes. Poster presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2015, May). Helping friends and punishing enemies: Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment. Talk given at the Association for Psychological Science 27th Annual Convention, New York, New York.

De Freitas, J., Thomas, K. A., DeScioli, P., & Pinker, S. (2015, May). The strategic bystander: Recursive theory of mind and common knowledge in decisions to help. Talk given at the 27th Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Columbia, Missouri.

Kurzban, R., Shaw, A., & DeScioli, P. (2015, May). Costs of neutrality in moral disputes. Talk given at the 27th Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Columbia, Missouri.

Reed, L. I., & DeScioli, P. (2015, May). The communicative function of sad facial expressions. Talk given at the 27th Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Columbia, Missouri.

DeScioli, P. (2015, April). Equity or equality? Moral judgments follow the money. Talk given at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Kraft, P. K., & DeScioli, P. (2015, April). Relaxing assumptions about voter utilities and majority rule efficiency. Talk given at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Thomas, K., DeScioli, P., Haque, O. S., & Pinker, S. (2015, April). The psychology of common knowledge and coordination. Talk given at the Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

DeScioli, P., & Kimbrough, E. (2015, March). Alliance formation in a side-taking game. Talk given at the NYU CESS Experimental Political Science Conference, New York, New York.

DeScioli, P., & Shaw, A. (2015, February). Share the wealth: Redistribution can increase economic efficiency. Talk given at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention, Long Beach, California.

DeScioli, P. (2014, May). The Side-Taking Function of Moral Condemnation. Talk given at the Association for Psychological Science 26th Annual Convention, San Francisco, California.

DeScioli, P. (2013, July). People's Ownership Intuitions About Disputes Between Finders and Landowners. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Miami, Florida.

DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2012, June). The Side-Taking Function of Morality: Part 1- The Adaptive Problem. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2012, June). The Side-Taking Function of Morality: Part 2- A Proposed Solution. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Thomas, K., DeScioli, P., Haque, O. S., & Pinker, S. (2012, June). The Psychology of Common Knowledge and Coordination. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Asao, K., DeScioli, P., & Piazza, J. You'll Be the First to Know: Loyalty and the Sharing of Good News. Poster presented at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

DeScioli, P., & Karpoff, R. (2012, January). People's Judgments About Classic Property Law Cases. Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, San Diego, California.

Piazza, J., & DeScioli, P. (2012, January). Who Else Knows? The Strategic Significance of Secrets. Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, San Diego, California.

Hailey, S. E., Altshteyn, I., & DeScioli, P. (2012, January). Moral Intuitions of Self Defense. Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, San Diego, California.

DeScioli, P., & Krishna, S. (2011, July). Giving to Whom? Altruism in Different Types of Relationships. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Montpellier, France.

Thomas, K., DeScioli, P., Pinker, S., & Haque, O. S. (2011, July). Common Knowledge and Coordination. Poster presented at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Montpellier, France.

DeScioli, P. & Wilson, B. (2011, April). The Territorial Foundations of Human Property. Talk given at the Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society Conference, Binghamton, NY.

Hailey, S., & DeScioli, P. (2011, January). Moral Intuitions About Self Defense. Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference, San Antonio, TX.

Wilson, B., & DeScioli, P. (2010, November). Mine and Thine: The Territorial Foundations of Human Property. Talk given at the Economic Science Association Conference, Tucson, AZ.

**DeScioli, P., & Wilson, B. (2010, June). Mine and Thine: The Foundations of Human Property. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Eugene, OR.
**Received the HBES 2010 Postdoctoral Award for best paper by a recent PhD.

DeScioli, P., Bruening, R., & Kurzban, R. (2009, May). The Omission Effect and the Design of Moral Psychology. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Fullerton, CA.

Christner, J., DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2009, May). Strategic Omissions in a Reverse Dictator Game. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Fullerton, CA.

DeScioli, P., Kurzban, R., & Nagaraja, C. (2007, June). Divided Loyalties and Rank-Masking Among Friends. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Williamsburg, VA.

Jayawickreme, E. R., Schueller, S. M., & DeScioli, P. (2007, May). Divided Loyalties and Happiness. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science 19th Annual Convention, Washington, DC.

DeScioli, P. (2006, June). The Four Basic Games. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

DeScioli, P. (2005, June). Characterizing Reciprocity in Groups: Information-Seeking in a Public Goods Game. Talk given at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference, Austin, TX.

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Teaching

Moral Politics, The Political Animal, Evolutionary Psychology, Experimental Economics, Cognitive Development, Human Sexuality: An Evolutionary Approach

Societies

American Political Science Association
Midwest Political Science Association
Association for Psychological Science
Human Behavior and Evolution Society
Society for Personality and Social Psychology

In The News

Harvard Gazette. March, 2015. Understanding common knowledge. [link]

Stony Brook University Happenings. December, 2014. Center for Behavioral Political Economy laboratory opens. [link]

Science Daily. October, 2014. People change their moral values to benefit themselves over others. [link]

Center for Humans & Nature. August, 2014. DeScioli, P. Morality: The amazing side-taking machine. [link]

Pacific Standard. August, 2014. Common knowledge makes us more cooperative. [link]

Association for Psychological Science. June, 2014. Angry faces back up verbal threats, making them seem more credible. [link]

Scientific American. April, 2013. How to be a better friend. [link]

BBC. January, 2013. How and why do we pick our friends? [link]

In Friendfluence, Flora, C. (2013). Ch2. Get your allies in order. [link]

New Scientist. February, 2012. Why we have moral rules but don't follow them. [link]

Greater Boston, WGBH TV. October, 2011. How social media changes friendships. [video]

Science Daily. March, 2011. People would rather let bad things happen than cause them, especially if someone is watching. [link]

Brandeis Now. March, 2011. Social media study shows how we choose friends. [link]

Physorg.com. February, 2011. Friendships are built on alliances, research shows. [link]

Psychology Today. June, 2010. Kenrick, D. T. Is opposition to pot-smoking really just fear of sex? [link]

Psychology Today. December, 2009. Kenrick, D. T. In "Defense" of Tiger Woods, AND of his critics. [link]

ScienceDirect Top 25. "Mysteries of morality" is the most downloaded paper from the journal Cognition for July-September 2009. [link]

Skeptic Magazine, 15:2. October, 2009. Kurzban, R. & DeScioli, P. "Why religions turn oppressive." [link]

Penn SAS Frontiers. August, 2009. That's what friends are for? [link]

Daily Pennsylvanian. June, 2009. Friends' opinions do matter. [link]

Science Daily. June, 2009. Be your best friend if you'll be mine: Alliance hypothesis for human friendship. [link]

Los Angeles Times. June, 2009. You saw it on survivor: Alliances matter. [link]

The Globe and Mail. June, 2009. How highly do your friends rate you? [link]

The New York Times. October, 2008. Civil enforcers take aim at Wall Street. [link]

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