• About Me

    I seek to understand when and why people behave prosocially, compared to behaving selfishly. In goal of promoting collective well-being, we can apply this knowledge to increase behaviors that benefit society such as environmental protection, or to reduce behaviors that harm society such as xenophobia.

    Brief Research Bio

    My research is in judgment and decision-making (cooperation, competition, wisdom, and social comparisons), with a focus on social effects and individual differences.


    My work is interdisciplinary, drawing on research in diverse fields (social/personality psychology; organizational psychology; behavioral economics; evolutionary biology). I use a combination of approaches to study these topics, including experimental economic games, surveys, and meta-analysis.


    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, and signaling value of wise reasoning and its relationship to human prosocial behaviors. Recently, I completed my PhD at the University of Guelph. My doctoral research focused on understanding why some people are more cooperative than others.


    Take a look at my CV

    Google Scholar

    Scientific Approach

    Research at two levels of analysis. I conduct research at two levels of analysis: (1) the underlying emotional mechanisms of behaviors (i.e. what calibrates behaviors?), and (2) the function of behaviors (i.e. what is the purpose of this behavior?).


    Looking at different levels of analysis is a powerful approach that increases our understanding of why people engage in cooperation and competition (or other behaviors.)


    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.



  • Research Interests



    Why are some people more cooperative than others? I'm interested in how peoples' cooperative strategies and personalities develop, and how they interact with situational factors such as reputation. In this line of inquiry, I have published on:

    Wise Reasoning

    Wise reasoning processes include taking others’ perspectives, integrating a problem into a broader context, being open to compromise, having intellectual humility, and searching for a resolution.

    These processes promote prosocial decision-making.


    My research on wise reasoning investigates when and why people engage people use wise reasoning and how people judge wisdom, in goal of understanding how to promote the use of wise reasoning.



    Research methods impact how participants behave in experiments, yet many design decisions are based on untested assumptions. I seek to better understand participant behavior in experimental settings in order to design better methods. In this space, I have researched:

  • Publications

    Click on paper titles to open them in a new tab

    Published (or Accepted Publications)

    • *Arnocky, S., *Desrochers, J., *Rotella, A., Albert, G., Hodges-Simeon, C., Locke, A., & Belanger, J.  (provisionally accepted). High mate-value males adopt a less restricted sociosexual orientation: A meta-analysis. *These authors contributed equally to the project. 

    Submitted or Under Review (available on request)

    • 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., Jung, J., Chinn, C., & Barclay, P. (under review). Observation and moral ambiguity matter: A meta-analysis on moral licensing.
    • Rotella, A., Varnum, M. E. W., Sng, O., & Grossmann, I. (under review). Increasing population densities predict decreasing fertility rates over time: A 174-nation investigation

    Selected Working Papers (available on request)

    • Hutcherson C. A., Varnum, M., Rotella, A., Sharpinski, K., Wormley, A., Tay, L., & Grossmann, I. (working paper). Anything to add?: Lay people make the same predictions about COVID-19’s effects as social and behavioural science experts.
    • Rotella, A., & Mishra, S.  (working paper). Personal relative deprivation negatively predicts engagement in group decision-making. [PREPRINT]
    • Rotella, A., & Barclay, P.  (working paper). Mating competition and cooperation: Restricted mating strategies are associated with prosociality.
    • Sparks, A., Rotella, A., Mishra, S., & Barclay, P. (working paper). 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

    View my presentations; just click the links.

    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 engage in the learning process – 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 have been a course instructor for two undergraduate courses at the University of Guelph (listed below). Beyond that, I have 10 years of experience as a seminar-based teaching assistant.

    •  Making Sense of Data in Psychological Research (Fall 2019)
      • An introductory course in statistics and research methods
    • Conflict: Cooperation or Competition? (Fall 2018)
      • An interdisciplinary course in cooperation and competition, drawing on social and organizational psychology, organizational behavior, behavioral economics, anthropology, and evolutionary biology

    Teaching Interests

    Teaching 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, organizational behavior, 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

    Ph.D. (2020)


    My dissertation work examined individual differences influence cooperative judgments and decisions, advised by Pat Barclay. I was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

    M.Sc. (2016)


    Under the guidance of Pat Barclay, my master’s dissertation investigated how cooperative decision making is influenced by reputation [PDF]. My Master's research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

    B.Sc. (2011)

    Biological Sciences and Psychology

    In 2011 I completed a B.Sc. in Biology combined with Psychology Honours degree with First Class Standing.

  • Collaborators

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

    Associate Professor

    University of Waterloo


    Igor is a social-cognitive scientist studying sound judgment and wisdom across cultures. His work utilizes methods at the intersection of big data analytics, psycho-physiology, diary surveys, and experiments.

    Associate Professor

    University of Guelph


    Pat investigates the evolution of human cooperation and risk-taking. His research program draws from evolutionary biology, animal behaviour, mathematical game theory, experimental & behavioural economics, and social psychology.

    Associate Professor

    University of Guelph


    Sandeep's research explores diverse and interdisciplinary questions in the areas of decision-making, individual differences, and mental health.

    Postdoctoral Researcher

    University of Waterloo


    Anna is interested in social behavior, inequality, and morality. Her research focuses on questions such as when and how people choose social interests over self-interest, which psychological factors impact reactions to inequality, and how can people make better decisions.

    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?

    Postdoctoral Fellow



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

  • Connect With Me

    Follow me on social media, or send me an email at amanda.mrotella@gmail.com.