Social Brain Lab Barcelona

Director: Clara Pretus, Ph.D.

We are hiring!


Welcome to our lab!

Our team uses methods from cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology to understand how political extremism impacts decision-making in contexts of political polarization. Specifically, we examine how extreme social identities and moral values shape people’s political beliefs, motivation to share misinformation, and willingness to engage in political violence.

We also develop novel interventions to combat polarization and the spread of misinformation based on insights from psychological and neuracognitive findings. We use a multi-method approach that includes neuroimaging tools such as functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), psychological testing, and behavioral experiments.

Join us in our mission to understand the neuroscience of political extremism and the spread of misinformation.


Morality and AI

Can AI help us make better moral judgments?


Is cognitive rigidity linked to fake news consumption?


Can changes in social media diet decrease extremism?

Featured publications

The Role of Political Devotion in Sharing Partisan Misinformation and Resistance to Fact-checking.
In a set of studies across the U.S. and Spain, we found that far-right partisans were more likely to share misinformation relevant to conservative sacred values and were resistant to fact-checks and accuracy nudges. At a brain level, we observed a strong response in brain regions implicated in norm compliance and mentalizing to misinformation that included sacred values (vs. nonsacred values) among far-right partisans. This work provides new theoretical and practical insights into misinformation sharing and resistance to fact-checking among far-right partisans.

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The Misleading Count: An Identity-Based Intervention to Mitigate the Spread of Partisan Misinformation.
Across three experiments in the U.S. and UK, we found that crowdsourcing accuracy judgments by adding a Misleading count next to the Like count reduced participants’ reported likelihood to share inaccurate information about partisan issues by 25% compared to a control condition. The Misleading count was also more effective when it reflected in-group norms (from fellow Democrats/Republicans) compared to the norms of general users, though this effect was absent in a less politically polarized context (UK).

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The Psychology of Hate: Moral Concerns Differentiate Hate from Dislike
We investigated whether any differences in the psychological conceptualization of hate and dislike were simply a matter of degree of negativity (i.e., hate falls on the end of the continuum of dislike) or also morality (i.e., hate is imbued with distinct moral components that distinguish it from dislike). In three lab studies in Canada and the U.S., we found that hated attitude objects were more negative than disliked attitude objects and associated with moral beliefs and emotions, even after adjusting for differences in negativity.

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Meet the team

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