The developmental origins of the social brain: Empathy, morality, and justice

Chenyi Chen, Róger Marcelo Martínez, Yawei Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The social brain is the cornerstone that effectively negotiates and navigates complex social environments and relationships. When mature, these social abilities facilitate the interaction and cooperation with others. Empathy, morality, and justice, among others, are all closely intertwined, yet the relationships between them are quite complex. They are fundamental components of our human nature, and shape the landscape of our social lives. The various facets of empathy, including affective arousal/emotional sharing, empathic concern, and perspective taking, have unique contributions as subcomponents of morality. This review helps understand how basic forms of empathy, morality, and justice are substantialized in early ontogeny. It provides valuable information as to gain new insights into the underlying neurobiological precursors of the social brain, enabling future translation toward therapeutic and medical interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2584
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - Dec 14 2018


  • Empathy
  • Inequity aversion
  • Interpersonal harm aversion
  • Justice
  • Morality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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