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Tage S. Rai

Assistant Professor of Management

Tage S. Rai is a psychologist who studies ethics, culture, and violence. Drawing on both qualitative and experimental methods, he examines the social-relational nature of morality, its origins, and its consequences. In recent work, he has found that when perpetrators are motivated by moral sentiments, they may humanize rather than dehumanize their victims, experience greater rather than lesser self-control when harming them, and respond irrationally to material costs and benefits. Moving forward, he is especially interested in developing psychological approaches to the study of organizational and institutional violence.

 Professor Rai received his PhD in cognitive psychology at UCLA. While at UCLA, he studied the cultural anthropology of interpersonal violence, as described in his book Virtuous Violence. He has published articles in leading journals in psychology, anthropology, and management. Prior to joining UCSD, Rai was the Editor for social and behavioral sciences at Science Magazine and a Lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He completed his post-doctoral training at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


Selected academic articles and chapters

Rai, T. S. (2022). Material benefits crowd out moralistic punishment. Psychological Science, 33, 789-797.  link

Rai, T. S. (2019). Higher self-control predicts engagement in undesirable moralistic aggression. Personality and individual differences, 149, 152-156. link

Rai, T. S., & Diermeier, D. (2019). Strategic consequences of being unsympathetic: For‐profit companies benefit more than individuals from focusing on responsibility. Psychology & Marketing, 36(2), 150-156. link

Rai, T. S. (2018). Relationship regulation theory. Atlas of moral psychology, 231-240. link

Rai, T. S., Valdesolo, P., & Graham, J. (2017). Dehumanization increases instrumental violence, but not moral violence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(32), 8511- 8516. link

Rai, T. S. (2017). Exile of the accidental witch: Character and intention in an uncertain social world. In Moral inferences (pp. 199-213). Psychology Press. link

Rai, T. S., & Diermeier, D. (2015). Corporations are cyborgs: Organizations elicit anger but not sympathy when they can think but cannot feel. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 126, 18-26. link

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (2014). Rational hypocrisy: A Bayesian analysis based on informal argumentation and slippery slopes. Cognitive science, 38(7), 1456-1467. link

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (2013). Exposure to moral relativism compromises moral behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(6), 995- 1001. link

Rai, T. S. (2012). Thinking in societies and cultures. The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. link

Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2011). Moral psychology is relationship regulation: moral motives for unity, hierarchy, equality, and proportionality. Psychological review, 118(1), 57-75. link

Nettle, D., Panchanathan, K., Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2011). The evolution of giving, sharing, and lotteries. Current Anthropology, 52(5), 747-756. link

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (2010). Moral principles or consumer preferences? Alternative framings of the trolley problem. Cognitive Science, 34(2), 311-321. link

Social Relationships