Below you will find a summary of my research projects.
How does group membership influence people's willingness to punish another person for a crime? This research shows that people demonstrate intergroup bias--but only when they are under cognitive load. The results have implications for theories of intergroup relations, justice, and social policy.
Citation: Yudkin, D. A., Rothmund, T., Thalla, N., Twardawski, M., & Van Bavel, J. (2016). Reflexive intergroup bias in third-party punishment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 1448-1459.
What do we learn from the people around us? In this research, I suggest that we learn different things from others depending on how similar to us they are. In a nutshell, I hypothesized that the more dissimilar a person is, the more abstract the things we'll learn from them. While you may compare cell phone thicknesses with your friends, when learning from someone in place like India, you may be more prone to learn about values, relationships, and how to live a good life.
Citation: Yudkin, D. A., Liberman, N., Wakslak, C., & Trope, Y. (Under Revision). Measuring up to distant others: Expanding and contracting the comparative scope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Altruism isn't just about being nice to others. It's also about punishing wrongdoers, even if it comes at a cost. In this research I investigated "altruistic punishment" in young children--younger than has ever been studied before. I showed that children as young as 3 years of age will make a personal sacrifice to punish someone who has broken the rules. This phenomenon has implications for the moral glue that holds human society together.
Citation: Yudkin, D. A., Rhodes, M., & Van Bavel, J. (in preparation). Altruistic punishment in young children.
How much should a person's specific features (race, religion, nationality) influence their right to justice? And when are people better or worse at applying justice equally to all individuals? In this research, we predicted that the more perspective (or, as it's known, psychological distance) people had on a situation, the better they would be at applying justice principles equally. This research shows that the best way to be fair is to take a step back from the situation.
The act of sightseeing in an unfamiliar city, of deciding whether to end a relationship, and of trying out a new item on a menu all have at least one thing in common: they all involve the act of venturing beyond the relative safety of a known environment (the “local maximum”) in search of a superior alternative. In this research, I investigate what sorts of mental states lead people to engage in exploration. I observed that the people who are most likely to take a risk by venturing into the unknown are the ones who are thinking of their situation in abstract or distant terms. The results highlight the mental faculties that may be necessary for people to transcend the here-and-now.
Citation: Yudkin, D.A., Pick Alony, R., Hur, Y., Liberman, N., & Trope, Y. (in preparation). High Level of Mental Construal Promotes Transcending of Local Maxima.