Interested in applying to do a PhD with us?

We are pleased to accept PhD applications for starting in Fall 2020. Yale's application deadline is December 1.

Currently we are investigating the cognitive and emotional building blocks of human morality, including how we form impressions about others, empathize with their experiences, judge what is right vs. wrong, and make decisions that affect others as well as ourselves. We use a variety of methods in our research, including behavioral experiments in the lab and online, brain imaging, computational modeling, field experiments (studying human behavior “in the wild”, e.g. at museums and festivals like Burning Man), and “big data” analyses of social media behavior. Our research incorporates perspectives from economics, philosophy and anthropology as well as psychology and neuroscience, and we collaborate with scholars across these disciplines. To get a sense of the kind of work we do, take a look at the key publications on our lab’s website. In addition, we are particularly interested in students who are enthusiastic about the following new directions for our lab’s research:

  • Narratives and moral behavior: The stories we tell ourselves and others exert a powerful organizing force on our choices. What kinds of narratives promote generosity vs. selfishness, and how?

  • Moral behavior in the digital age: Is modern technology shaping our morality? If so, how?

  • Relational morality: How does moral cognition vary across different kinds of social relationships? How does relational status shape our impressions of others?

  • Hard problems of empathy: How can we empathize with ways of suffering that we could never experience personally?

  • Computational psychiatry: how is the social mind and brain impaired in personality disorders?

Yale is an ideal environment for studying these kinds of questions. In the Psychology department, we have Yarrow Dunham, Paul Bloom, Julian Jara-Ettinger and Laurie Santos working on morality and prosocial behavior from developmental and comparative perspectives; Maria Gendron and Margaret Clark studying emotions in the context of social relationships; Jenn Richeson and Jack Dovidio examining intergroup relations; Arielle Baskin-Sommers investigating antisocial behavior; and Steve Chang working on neural circuit models of social behavior. Other colleagues working on related topics include Hedy Kober, Phil Corlett, Ifat Levy and Daeyol Lee in Psychiatry; Josh Knobe and Laurie Paul in Philosophy; Jason Dana, Daylian Cain, George Newman, Michael Kraus, and Victoria Brescoll in the School of Management; and Gideon Yaffe and Tom Tyler at the School of Law.

Our department is exceptionally well equipped for training the next generation of scholars who want to apply cutting-edge methods to the study of human behavior. We are opening a brand-new research-dedicated neuroimaging center in the same building as our lab, which will be fully operational by Spring 2019. Prof Nick Turk-Browne offers training in advanced neuroimaging methods and Prof Julian Jara-Ettinger teaches a wildly popular graduate statistics course for fully reproducible data analysis in R. Our lab is committed to reproducibility and we strive to incorporate principles of open science in our research.

If you are interested in working with Dr. Crockett as your primary supervisor, please be sure to make that clear in your application, and also list any other faculty you would be interested in collaborating with. We prefer to admit students whose interests fit with at least two faculty in our department. We currently have active collaborations with several other faculty, including Paul Bloom, Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Julian Jara-Ettinger, Jenn Richeson and Margaret Clark. The Crockett Lab accepts students through the Social area and the Neuroscience area. If you anticipate using neuroscience methods in your research, you should apply through the Neuroscience area.

Admission to our program is highly competitive, and you can maximize your chances by writing an outstanding research statement. Here is some advice on how to do this. In a nutshell, we will be looking for evidence that you have read some of our work and have thought deeply about how your interests fit with our research program and that of other faculty at Yale. Please also be sure to emphasize your technical abilities and experience in your application, including experience with computer programming and data analysis in scientific computing languages (e.g. Matlab, R, Python, HTML/CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, etc.).

Yale has a very generous funding package for PhD students. However, we encourage all applicants to consider applying for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Please mention in your application if you have applied for any funding.