Professor Department of Psychology Stanford University

Brain Science and the Culture of Empathy

Jamil Zaki is an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University. His research examines social cognition and behavior, especially how people understand and respond to each other’s emotions. This work spans a number of domains, social influence, prosocial behavior, and especially empathy (see for details). In addition to studying the mechanics of empathy, Dr. Zaki’s work focuses on helping people empathize better. For instance, new research from his lab examines how to encourage empathy for people from distant political and ethnic groups, and also how caregivers and healthcare professionals can effectively empathize with their patients while maintaining their own well being.

Dr. Zaki received his BA in cognitive neuroscience from Boston University and his PhD in psychology from Columbia University, and conducted postdoctoral research at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. He has received research and teaching awards from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the Society for Neuroscience, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, Autism Speaks, Harvard University, and Stanford University.

In addition to his academic work, Dr. Zaki is active in outreach and public communication of science. He has written about the psychology of empathy and related phenomena for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Nautilus Magazine, Scientific American, WIRED, and The Huffington Post. He’s currently at work on a book, Choosing Empathy (Crown), which focuses on building empathy under difficult circumstances. Finally, Dr. Zaki encourages others to engage in public communication of science through his platform, The People’s Science (