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The 6th phase of “Gao Juefu Psychological Lectures” in School of Psychology: “Guilt and Social Behavior: Cognitive Neuroscience Research” by Prof. Xiaolin Zhou

Xiaolin Zhou, a Professor from Peking University, member of the Psychological Review Team of the State Council Academic Degrees Committee, director of the Ministry of Education Psychology Teaching Steering Committee, vice chairman of the Chinese Psychological Society, and the Distinguished Professor of Yangtze River Scholar, was invited to give an academic report entitled “Guilt and Social Behavior: Cognitive Neuroscience Research” on May 30th in the School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University. The report was chaired by associate Professor Qingrong Chen, assistant dean of School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University. Prof. Zhu Deng, vice dean of School of Psychology at NNU, Prof. Jiayuan Yu and other teachers and students attended the lecture.


At the beginning of the report, Prof. Qingrong Chen gave a brief introduction on Prof. Zhou. From the 2015 “Word of The Year” and the research about rats rescuing drowning companion with compassion, Prof. Zhou put forward the important issue of psychological research, that is, the relationship between internal emotions and external behaviors. Prof. Zhou further pointed out that, although guilt is an important human social emotion, few studies investigated the neural mechanism of it. There may be three reasons leading to this situation: 1) it is hard to have a quantitative operation; 2) it’s difficult to be real-induced; 3) there is no animal model. Therefore, most prior relevant studies cannot explore the mechanisms and cause and effect. Considering these issues, Prof. Zhou reported five high-level experimental studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging equipment. Study 1 investigated the neuron basis of guilt; study 2 investigated how expectation moderates guilt; study 3 examined the compensation after guilt occurred: based on generosity or fairness; study 4 investigated the social avoidance behavior induced by guilt; study 5 explored how the attitude to injury moderates guilt. In the course of the report, Prof. Zhou not only elaborated on the origin and theoretical basis of the problem, but also taught the students how to use the experimental paradigm (such as Interpersonal game paradigm), how to adopt research design (Model-based design) and how to employ research methods (structural MRI) based on hypothesis-driven and data-driven. This report greatly inspired all the students and teachers.


The report lasted more than two hours, ending with the pleasant communication between professors and students. Prof. Deng thanked Prof. Zhou for his wonderful report and patient and intelligent interaction with students. He concluded that Professor Zhou's report has rich connotations and perfect research designs. He hoped that teachers and students could get own implications from the report and improve the quality of their own studies.