The Neurobiology of Fairness and Social Justice: An Introduction

H. Hannah Nam, John T. Jost, Stanley Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of social justice has always been an interdisciplinary undertaking, but in recent years neurobiologists have joined scholars and scientists from other areas to tackle complex questions concerning fairness, empathy, equality, hierarchy, and ideological conflict and polarization. By synthesizing insights from multiple, mutually informative levels of analysis, it is possible to shed new light on basic biological processes that reflect, inspire, and inhibit the pursuit of a more just society. With this special issue we highlight groundbreaking research on the neurobiology of fairness and social justice, bringing together six articles that address core themes of social justice, including individual variability in definitions of fairness, the genetic basis of economic egalitarianism, neural bases of empathy in environmental and intergroup domains, and the neural and genetic correlates of ideological polarization. Taken in conjunction, these diverse contributions bring multiple theoretical perspectives and research methods to bear on the shared goal of understanding and promoting social justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Justice Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Empathy
  • Fairness
  • Genetics
  • Ideological polarization
  • Inequality
  • Justice neuroscience
  • Political neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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