THE DEVELOping moral values LAB

Research Projects




 Research Projects



In the Developing Moral Values Lab, we aim to discover how values are shaped during childhood.

Our moral values define us, unite us, and give meaning to our lives.  Gaining a scientific understanding of how these values are acquired provides a powerful vantage point from which to make informed decisions about how to facilitate a better future.  In order to contribute to this emerging understanding of the inner workings of our moral minds, the Developing Moral Values Lab conducts a range of studies with adults and with children between the ages of 5 and 9. Some of the issues we are currently investigating include:

> the morals of a story

To what extent are children influenced by moral lessons that are conveyed in storybooks?

> SELECTIVE trust in moral advisors

What kinds of people do children tend to trust when they are being taught morally-relevant information?


How and when does the emotion of disgust emerge in childhood, and is this intertwined with morality?

> the roots of environmental ethics

Why do some people care deeply about the planet, while others believe that humans can exploit nature?





Joshua Rottman, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator


[F&M faculty profile]



Liz Abraham

Senior, Sociology Major and Psychology Minor

Directed Study Student

Anastasiia Grigoreva

Senior, Cognitive Science and Psychology Double Major

Lab Manager

Mira Lerner

Research Assistant

Kelly Minard
Junior, Biology Major and Psychology Minor

Research Assistant

Sam Bellerson

Research Assistant

Nicole Kolmstetter

Research Assistant

Maya Workowski

Research Assistant

Lulu Gomez

Research Assistant



Tenny-Ann DandY

Research Assistant



Emily Kapner

Research Assistant




Alexander Moog '16, Independent Study Student

Ashley Christopherson '16, Student Coordinator

Zachary Walden '16, Student Coordinator

Rebecca Branovan '17, Independent Study Student

Sydney Bierhoff '18, Hackman Summer Scholar 2016

Taisha Pelletier '18, Hackman Summer Scholar 2016

Leslie Botey '18, Research Assistant 

Caroline Lawrence '18, Research Assistant 

Tess Flanagan '18, Independent Study Student

Heather Greenebaum '18, Hackman Summer Scholar 2017

​Ipeknaz Erel '18, 

Josie Benitez '18, Independent Study Student

Stylianos Syropoulos '18, Hackman Summer Scholar 2017 and Independent Study Student

Rachel Gerb '19, Research Assistant 

Xinjie (Adele) Zhao '19, Research Assistant

Chandrakant Dhanraj '20, APA SUPRE Scholar 2017

Prsni Patel '19, Directed Study Student

Julianna Lynch '19, Research Assistant, Brookshire Award Recipient

Valerie Zizik '19, Research Assistant, Hackman Summer Scholar 2018




A few sample publications are below.  For a complete list, please visit Prof. Rottman's faculty page or his personal website.

Selected publications

Rottman, J., Johnston, A. M., Bierhoff, S., Pelletier, T., Grigoreva, A. D., & Benitez, J. (2020). In sickness and in filth: Developing a disdain for dirty people. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 196, 104858. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104858. [PDF]

Lynch, J. M., Lane, J. D., Berryessa, C. M., & Rottman, J. (2019). How information about perpetrators’ nature and nurture influences assessments of their character, mental states, and deserved punishment. PLOS One, 14(10), e0224093. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0224093. [PDF]

Rottman, J., DeJesus, J. M., & Greenebaum, H. (2019). Developing disgust: Theory, measurement, and application. In V. LoBue, K. Pérez-Edgar, & K. Buss (Eds.), Handbook of emotional development (pp. 283–309). New York: Springer. [PDF]


Rottman, J., & Young, L. (2019). Specks of dirt and tons of pain: Dosage distinguishes impurity from harm. Psychological Science.  doi: 10.1177/0956797619855382.  [PDF]


Rottman, J., Young, L., & Kelemen, D. (2017). The impact of testimony on children’s moralization of novel actions. Emotion, 17(5), 811–827. doi:10.1037/emo0000276. [PDF]