• About Me

    Hi! I'm Amanda. I research when and why people use wise reasoning and cooperative strategies.

    Brief Research Bio

    I am currently a Postdoctoral Researcher the Wisdom and Culture Lab at the University of Waterloo, directed by Dr. Igor Grossmann. Here, I research the function, perception, signaling value of wise reasoning. Wise reasoning includes taking others' perspectives, intellectual humility, recognition of uncertainty and change, and search for compromise. My hypotheses are influenced by work in social psychology, evolutionary psychology and biology, game theory, behavioural ecology, experimental economics, and social anthropology.


    My doctoral research focused on understanding individual differences cooperative strategies. In particular, I am interested in how individual differences in cooperative strategies develop (Who helps? Why?). I also research how situational influences, such as observation, interact with these strategies.


    I use a combination of approaches to study these topics, including experimental economic games, self-report surveys, and meta-analysis. As such, my work is interdisciplinary, lying at the intersection of social psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational behaviour, and experimental economics.


    Take a look at my CV!

    Scientific Approach and Values

    Research at two levels of analysis. I conduct research at two levels of analysis: (1) the underlying emotional mechanisms of behaviours (i.e. what calibrates behaviours?), and (2) the function of behaviours (i.e. what is the purpose of this behaviour?, or why did this behaviour evolve?). Looking at different levels of analysis is a powerful approach that increases our understanding of why people engage in cooperation and competition (or other behaviours!)


    Open Science. I am dedicated to open science and replicability. All my projects have been pre-registered on the Open Science Framework since the start of my PhD, and I make all my data and analysis scripts openly available upon publication. I also aim to publish open access.


    Making Science Accessible. I strongly believe that publicly-funded science could and should be accessible to the general public. I strive to continuously make my work more accessible.


  • Research Interests


    Personality & Cooperation


    Why are some people more cooperative than others? I'm interested in how peoples' cooperative strategies and personalities develop. In other words, which factors calibrate cooperative preferences? There are both short-term situational factors and long-term environmental factors.


    Recent research efforts have found that cooperation was unrelated to life-history theory. Starting there, I have found that cooperative preferences are related to mating strategies, such that less cooperative individuals want shorter-term relationships and less commitment before sex. I theorize that this is due to mating competition - if someone is competing more frequently and against more individuals, they have fewer people to cooperate with. As a result, they will be less cooperative (Rotella & Barclay, in prep). I'm interested in continuing to research the implications of market-based competition for access to mating and social partners, how this influences personality development, and how it influence relationship retention, maintenance, and dissolution.

    Reputation & Partner Choice


    Cooperation can be costly. Because of this, for non-kin cooperation to evolve individuals must receive indirect benefits for their cooperative behaviour. A good reputation is one such benefit. Cooperative people are more often chosen as partners, and receive more long-term help from others.


    I investigate how reputational benefits influence partner choice, cooperation, competition, and signalling. I plan on also researching how this relates to moral judgements, when and why people free-ride, and when we judge others “guilty by association”. Within this topic, I have investigated how individual variation in cooperation influences how people use reputation-based cues to make economic decisions (Rotella, Sparks, Mishra, & Barclay, in prep), how these cues influence trust-based decisions (Sparks, Rotella, Halden, & Barclay, in prep), and when people will take risks (Sparks, Rotella, Mishra, & Barclay, in prep). Moreover, I am interested in how markets-based competition relates to the evolution, expression, and condemnation of morality.

    Inequality & Social Comparisons


    Inequality is associated with many negative consequences at the societal level, including more violence and crime, reduced trust, poor educational outcomes, poor physical and mental health, and greater substance abuse. The proposed emotional mechanisms at the individual level are feelings of relative deprivation. That is, social comparisons that lead to subjective feelings of resentment, anger, and dissatisfaction. Relative deprivation is also associated in many negative outcomes.


    Most interactions involve some level of inequality - in wealth, in prestige, in age, in experience, in ability, etc. I'm interested in how feelings of relative deprivation impact social relations and why; how it influences partner choice, relationship formation and dissolution, markets-based competition, free-riding, signalling, and the development of personality. In fact, I have researched how relative deprivation influences participation in group decision-making, finding that feelings of relative deprivation is an important predictor of lower participation in the decision-making process (Rotella & Mishra, in prep).

    Research Methods


    I am also interested in how methodology influences behaviour in experimental studies (especially in economic games) and survey responses.


    Methodology has large influences on participants’ behaviour in psychological and economic experiments, yet many design decisions are based on untested assumptions. To better understand participant behaviour in psychological experiments, I have researched how stake size influences decisions in two economic games (Larney, Rotella, & Barclay, 2019), and how payment influenced responses on an online delay discounting task (Rotella, Fogg, Mishra, & Barclay, in prep.). I intend to do further work investigating how payment influences participants’ responses in economic games, and how large-scale data collection efforts influence data quality, in order to use this information to design better experiments.

  • Publications

    Take a peak at my written works, past and present.

    Published (or Accepted Publications)

    Submitted or Under Review

    • *Arnocky, S., *Desrochers, J., *Rotella, A., Albert, G., Hodges-Simeon, C., Locke, A., & Belanger, J.  (under review). High mate-value males adopt a less restricted sociosexual orientation: A meta-analysis. *These authors contributed equally to the project. 
    • Rotella, A., Sparks, A., Mishra, S., & Barclay, P. (revise and resubmit). Individual differences in social value orientation, observation, and the ‘watching eyes effect’: An attempted replication and extension.
    • Rotella, A., & Mishra, S.  (submitted). Personal relative deprivation negatively predicts engagement in group decision-making. 

    Selected Working Papers (available on request)

    • Rotella, A., Jung, J., Chinn, C., & Barclay, P. Observation and moral ambiguity matter: A meta-analysis on moral licensing.
    • Rotella, A., & Barclay, P.  Mating competition and cooperation: Restricted mating strategies are associated with prosociality. 
    • Sparks, A., Rotella, A., Mishra, S., & Barclay, P. Betting your reputation: Public (but not private) prisoner’s dilemma is associated with behavioural risk taking. 
  • "Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion"



  • Conferences

    Check out my presentations; just click the links to see them!

    Selected Posters and Talks

  • "Access to information is a human right, but is often treated as privilege. This has to change - and it will take all of us to make it happen"



  • Teaching

    My students do science – not just memorization – as I encourage them to engage in the messy process of inquiry. My goal is that they learn how to think, rather than what to think, and I create opportunities to make this happen.

    Teaching Experiences

    Course Instructor and Teaching Assistant

    I taught an interdisciplinary course on Conflict: Cooperation or Competition? to first-year undergraduate students. Each week we explored a different topic in cooperation and competition, drawing on research in psychology, biology, organizational behaviour, and social anthropology.


    Additionally, I have ten years of experience as a teaching assistant in undergraduate courses for the the Psychology and Arts and Science departments at the University of Guelph and Brock University.

    Teaching Interests

    Philosophy and Areas of Interest

    I endeavor to learn and research effective teaching strategies because I strive to achieve excellence in teaching. I aim to accommodate students’ diverse learning styles and to motivate them to connect with the course material. I use these strategies to a single end: to facilitate an effective, inclusive, equitable, and enjoyable learning experience for every student. My overall objective is to help students reach their goals and attain the desired learning outcomes.


    I am an interdisciplinary researcher and am broadly interested in social behaviour. As a result, I am interested in teaching a wide variety of topics; these include (but are not limited to) social psychology, evolutionary psychology, personality, organizational behaviour, and research methods.

  • "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."



  • Education

    From cooperation in bees to cooperation in humans - here's a summary of my academic upbringing!

    University of Guelph

    Ph.D. Psychology

    Expected August 2019

    I am in the process of completing my Ph.D. in Psychology investigating how individual differences influence cooperative judgments and decisions, advised by Pat Barclay. In other words, I investigate who cooperates and why.


    My work is funded by a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

    University of Guelph

    M.Sc. in Psychology (2016)

    Under the guidance of Pat Barclay, my master’s dissertation investigated how cooperative decision making is influenced by reputation.


    Specifically, I examined: (1) how we use information in the environment to assess trustworthiness, and (2) if thinking about observation increased cooperative behaviour [PDF].

    Brock University

    B.Sc. Biological Sciences and Psychology (2011)

    In 2011 I completed a B.Sc. in Biology combined with Psychology Honours degree with First Class Standing. The focus of my undergraduate education was in behavioural ecology, evolution, social psychology, and research methods.


    My undergraduate dissertation investigated the social organization of the twig-nesting carpenter bee Ceratina calcarata, advised by Miriam Richards.

  • Collaborators

    Check out some of my collaborators, they do some awesome research!

    Associate Professor

    University of Guelph


    Pat Barclay is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Guelph, and is cross-appointed in the Bachelor of Arts & Sciences (BAS) program. He investigates the evolution of human cooperation and risk-taking, and does both theoretical and empirical work. His research program draws from evolutionary biology, animal behaviour, mathematical game theory, experimental & behavioural economics, and social psychology.

    Post-Doctoral Fellow



    Adam studies emotions and other psychological mechanisms underlying social behavior, usually by leveraging evolutionary functional theories about cooperation, conflict, and risk taking. 

    Associate Professor

    University of Regina


    Sandeep Mishra is a KPMG Research Scholar and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior/Human Resource Management at the Hill/Levene Schools of Business at the University of Regina. His research explores diverse and interdisciplinary questions in the areas of decision-making, individual differences, and mental health.

    Ph.D. Candidate

    Central European University


    Mia’s work addresses contextual cues which influence partner-choice decisions, and the evolutionary rationale for these decisions. She is asking questions such as: Are people "rational" advertisers? and, are self-presentation strategies finely tuned to audiences?

  • Connect With Me!

    Check out my social media, or send me an email at amanda.mrotella@gmail.com! I'd love to hear from you.