The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior puts the most accurate and actionable neuroscience in the hands of judges, lawyers, policymakers and journalists—people who shape the standards and practices of our legal system and affect its impact on people’s lives. We work to make the legal system more effective and more just for all those affected by the law.

WATCH: The Neuroscience of Hate

April 10, 2019 12:00 PM at Harvard Law School


Human beings are biologically predisposed to divide humanity into ingroups and outgroups, and this comes with a great social cost – the capacity for hate. While we may view ourselves and our communities as benevolent and egalitarian, we often view outsiders as inhuman, unworthy, or alien, allowing us to victimize them in conscious and unconscious ways. What are the psychological and neurobiologic roots of this urge to divide ourselves? How do legal structures enact and justify systemic disadvantage for outsiders?

Panelists at this event discussed structures in the brain and in the law that foster hate. 

VIDEO: Rebecca Saxe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, and associate member, McGovern Institute


  • Jon Hanson, Alan A. Stone Professor of Law; Faculty Director, The Systemic Justice Project; Director, Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School
  • Rebecca Saxe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, and associate member, McGovern Institute
  • Moderator: Judith Edersheim, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; attending Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

Part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.