My research has focused primarily on the “self-conscious” emotions of pride, shame, guilt, and embarrassment. These emotions are central to a wide range of fundamental social processes and behaviors, yet have been largely neglected by both the emotion and self literatures. One of the major goals of my work is to redress this gap. New findings suggest that self-conscious emotions fit well within evolutionary models of emotions, and that understanding the adaptive functions and phylogenetic history of these emotions may address broader questions about the evolution of self and social status.
In recent years, my research has moved from an emphasis on self-conscious emotions to other related topics, including: the study of social status and hierarchy, understanding the emotional underpinnings of morality, the nonverbal communication of social rank, the measurement of distinct emotion subjective feelings, trends in psychological science, and the development of a taxonomy of positive emotions.