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Human Emotions Research Lab, George Mason University
Our research imports social-personality theory and research on moral emotions and cognitions to the applied problems of crime, substance abuse, and HIV risk behavior. The primary aims are to better understand the role of moral emotions (i.e., shame, guilt and empathy) and moral cognitions (i.e., criminogenic beliefs) in the lives of currently and recently incarcerated offenders, and to develop effective culturally sensitive jail-based interventions targeting these theoretically specified mechanisms of actions (MOAs) to reduce post-release substance use, HIV risk, and recidivism and to enhance offenders

Faculty Members
June Tangney, moral emotions, offender rehabilitation, borderline personality disorder
Jeff Stuewig, developmental psychology, recidivism, substance dependence
Mark Hastings, forensic psychology, risk assessment, psychopathy

Contact Info
Primary Contact: Prof. June Tangney
Human Emotions Research Lab (HERL)
Department of Psychology
George Mason University
Fairfax VA 22030
Phone: 703-993-1365
Website Address:

Center/Researcher Information
  • Number of Faculty: 3
  • Certified in Human Subjects Training (e.g., citi tran): Yes
  • Justice Agencies likely to collaborate with:
    Local adult detention centers
    State departments of corrections
    Federal bureau of prisons
    Probation and Parole
    Community providers of mental health services

  • Type of Outreach/Activities Engages In:
    Briefings and trainings

  • Grant Writing Expertise: Yes

  • Past sources of research funding:
    NIDA, NIMH, NICHD, John F Templeton Foundation

  • Current Projects:
    (1) A basic research prospective study of moral emotions and cognitions of 508 serious offenders first assessed shortly upon entry to a county jail, followed over the course of incarceration, and currently being assessed at 7 post-release;
    (2) A Phase II Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT) of the restorative justice-inspired Impact of Crime (IOC) group intervention of 200 jail inmates nearing release into the community, focusing on moral emotions and cognitions as MOAs, currently being followed up at 3 months and 1 year post-release;
    (3) A Phase Ib RCT of a brief manualized values-based mindfulness group intervention for inmates nearing release into the community

  • Indirect Cost Rates:

  • Organizational policies on the use of collected data:
    Determined on a case by case basis

  • Organizational policies on publications:
    We are happy to include collaborators as co-authors on publications

  • Number of Graduate Research Assistants: 5
  • Number of Administrative Assistants and Staff: 3
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