I'm a post-doctoral fellow in the Cooperation Lab and the Morality Lab at Boston College. I primarily work with Drs. Katherine McAuliffe and Liane Young. I'm broadly interested in social cognitive development with a particular focus on how children reason about social and moral issues. 

I completed my PhD in 2020 under the supervision of Dr. Paul Bloom in the Mind & Development Lab.  There, I also focused on questions surrounding the development of moral reasoning. 


Prior to graduate school, I worked with Dr. Scott Lilienfeld at Emory University. There, I primarily investigated psychopathy's relationship to moral judgment. 



When and why

we punish others?

Punishment plays a key role in sustaining cooperation in our society. We punish those who act immorally or who break social norms, and will even do so when it comes at a personal cost. I'm interested in the development of this behavior. Do children also punish others? If so, when do they, and why do they? 

To address the question of when, we have investigated whether children are willing to punish others in contexts that involve direct harm, specifically corporal punishment. We find that children, at least in our studies, are not interested in punishing antisocial others when punishment involves directly harm the transgressor. For more information, see this paper.

To address the question of why, we have investigated whether children are motivated to punish antisocial others because they want transgressors to suffer (i.e., retribution) or because they want transgressors to learn (i.e., consequentialism). We find that children punish for both reasons, suggesting that both retributive and consequential motives are present at a young age. For more information, stay tuned for a new paper soon to be out at Nature Human Behaviour. 

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How do children and adults reason about obligations?

As adults, we have sophisticated notions about who we are obligated to help. For example, we consider ourselves obligated to our children and our friends, but less so to strangers or people living in a distant country.


In a recent paper, we investigated whether young children (~5-year-olds) take social relationship into account when evaluating others' actions. We found that, unlike older children and adults who evaluate unhelpful friends more harshly than unhelpful strangers, younger children evaluate these unhelpful actors similarly. This may perhaps reflect a sense that individuals are obligated to help one another, regardless of social relationship. To read more about this, check out our recent paper in Child Development

We have also found a similar shift in children's judgments about obligations to punish. To read more about this, check out our recent paper in Cognition

We are currently extending this work by investigating whether we see similar patterns in different cultures. Stay tuned!

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Why do children and adults exhibit prejudice?

Much research has documented that children exhibit prejudice against a variety of groups from a young age. In some recent work with my collaborator, Anton Gollwitzer, we have examined one potential cause of children's prejudice -- children's aversion to broken patterns. This work has rendered two central findings. For one, children from a young age (~3 years old) dislike broken patterns. And, secondly, this dislike of broken patterns correlates with the degree children dislike social norm-breakers. We have also thoroughly examined this relationship in work with adults, where we find very similar robust results.

In more recent investigations into this relationship, we have adopted experimental (rather than correlational) designs to see the causal role pattern deviancy aversion plays in children's and adult's prejudicial attitudes.

For our most recent work on this topic, check out these two papers.

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17. Marshall, J. & McAuliffe, K. (in press). The role of emotion in second- and third-party punishment. Invited book chapter, The Oxford Handbook of Evolution and Emotions.

16. Gollwitzer, A., McLoughlin, K., Martel, C., Marshall, J., Hohs, J., & Bargh, J. (in press). Linking self-reported social distancing to real-world behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

15. Marshall, J., Yudkin, D., & Crockett, M. (2021). Children punish third parties to satisfy both consequentialist and retributive motives. Nature Human Behaviour. [link] [osf]

14. Marshall, J., Mermin-Bunnell, N., & Bloom, P. (2020). Developing judgments about peers' obligations to intervene. Cognition, 201. [link] [osf]

13. Marshall, J., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2020). Do children and adults take social relationship into account when evaluating other peoples' actions? Child Development, 91, e1082-e1100 [link] [osf]

12. Marshall, J. (2020). Obligations without cooperation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences; Commentary on "The Moral Psychology of Obligation". [link]

11. Gollwitzer, A., Marshall, J., & Bargh, J. (2020). Pattern deviancy predicts prejudice via a dislike of statistical minorities. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149, 828-854. [link]

10. Marshall, J., Gollwitzer, A., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2019). The development of third-party corporal punishment. Cognition, 190, 221-229. [link] [osf]

9. Marshall, J., Gollwitzer, A., Santos, L. (2018). Two tests of an implicit mentalizing system: Evidence for the submentalizing position. PLoS One. [link] [osf

8. Gollwitzer, A., Marshall, J., Wang, Y., & Bargh, J. (2017). Relating pattern deviancy aversion to stigma and prejudice. Nature Human Behavior. [link]

7. Wynn, K., Bloom, P., Jordan, A., Marshall, J., & Sheskin, M. (2017). Not noble savages after all: Limits to early altruism. Current Directions in Psychological Science. [link]

6. Marshall, J., Watts, A.L., Frankel, E., Lilienfeld, S.O. (2017). An examination of psychopathy’s relationship with two indices of moral judgment. Personality and Individual Differences, 113, 240-245. [link]

5. Marshall, J., Lilienfeld, S.O., Mayberg, H., & Clark, S. (2017). The mixed effects of neurological information and brain images on perceptions of psychopathic wrongdoers. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 28, 412-436. [link]

4. Marshall, J., Watts, A., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2016). Do psychopathic individuals possess a misaligned moral compass? A meta-analytic examination of psychopathy’s relations with moral judgment. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 9, 40-50. [link]

3. Lilienfeld, S.O., Aslinger, E., Marshall, J., & Satel, S. (2016). A field guide to exaggerated brain-based claims. In Routledge Handbook of Neuroethics.

2. Rommelfanger, K., Marshall, J., Wolpe, P.R., (2016). Neuroethics, In Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook: Philosophy.

1. Lilienfeld, S. O., Marshall, J., Todd, J. T., & Shane, H. C. (2015). The persistence of fad interventions in the face of negative scientific evidence: Facilitated communication for autism as a case example. Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention, 8, 1-40. [link]