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HomeAcademic staffDr Claudia Civai
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I am a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, in the School of Applied Sciences, member of the Center for Addictive Behaviour Research and of the Brain, Mind and Behaviour Research Group. I joined LSBU in 2017, having previously worked at the University of Minnesota (USA), Radboud University (Netherlands), and the University of Kent.

I am passionate about understanding people's propensity to cooperate, reciprocate trust and behave fairly, which I investigate through the lenses of Decision Neuroscience.

My recent research investigates the effects of scarcity on cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of attentional biases on retributive and restorative justice.

My main line of research focuses on the investigation of the cognitive processes underlying social and individual economic decision-making and employs the multidisciplinary approach of Decision Neuroscience, which integrates psychology, neuroscience and economic decision theory. I am particularly interested in social decision-making, which refers to the choices that we make when others are involved.

It has been shown that people have a preference for fair outcomes, and may even end up rejecting sure gains rather than accepting an unfair disadvantageous bargain; nevertheless, unfairness and inequality are widely spread in the world. What are the contextual factors that modulate our socio-economic choices? Do we care about unfairness and injustice when we witness someone else being the victim of it? What happen when unfair outcomes are advantageous for us? Those are the questions that I have been addressing in my research.

Some of my current projects include:

- the neurocognitive processes underlying punishment and compensation (i.e., retributive and restorative justice), two different mechanisms of reaction to fairness and justice violations (in collaboration with University of Milan - Bicocca);

- the effects of a scarcity mindset on value-based decision-making and prosocial behaviours (in collaboration with University of Padua, Italy)

- the willingness to pay for human contact in an increasingly virtual world (funded by a Small Leverhulme/BA grant, in collaboration with Drs Elisa Carrus and Stella Mearns).

I am also involved in multidisciplinary projects across the Division and the School:

- the role of social norms on e-cigarettes consumption (Emke Brazier's PhD project, co-supervisor)

- the effects of architectural design on the lived experience of patients and staff at Manchester psychiatric unit (Donna Ciarlo's PhD project, co-supervisor)

- The effects of microbiota on cognitive and affective processes and food choices, in collaboration with the National Bakery School (Ms Adri Bester) and human science (Dr Rita de Oliveira).

I also collaborate with the Brussel-based company Sapience on the development of neuromarketing and consumer insights training for business professionals, delivered by the Centro Universitario Internazionale in Italy.

Courses taught

Psychology - BSc (Hons)

Psychology - MSc

Mental Health and Clinical Psychology - MSc

Postgraduate Research Supervision
Current
Miss Emke Susan Evelyn BrazierDoctoral Research ProjectPhD
Miss Donna Michelle CiarloDoctoral Research ProjectPhD

Awarded in the last 5 years
Miss Stella MearnsThe Emotional Decision Maker: exploring the role of affect in sweet food choicePhD
PhD in Neuroscience

International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS), Trieste, Italy

2007
2011
MSc in Experimental Psychology and Cognitive and Beahavioural Neuroscience

University of Padua, Italy

2004
2006
BSc in Psychological, Cognitive and Psychobiological Sciences

University of Padua, Italy

2001
2004
Fellowship of AdvanceHE

AdvanceHE (Former Higher Education Academy)

2020
Lecturer
University of Kent

2016
2017
Education
Postdoctoral research fellow
Radboud University, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

2014
2016
Education
Postdoctoral research associate
University of Minnesota

2012
2014
Education
FunderYear wonProjectRole
British Academy 2022Human contact in the digital age: a soon to be scarce luxury good?Co-Investigator
ProposalProjectRoleFunderStatusStatus last updated
Gender and the city: Urban mobility environments for care Gender and the city: Urban mobility environments for care Co-InvestigatorEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)OPEN SubmittedSep 2023
Advance HE
2020
Society for Judgment and Decision Making
2012
Neuroeconomics
2012
2019
Frontiers in Psychiatry - Social Cognition

Other
Review Editor
2020
Frontiers in Behavioural Economics - Neuroeconomics

Associate editor
2023
Less expectation, less pain: Low financial capability alleviates sense of unfairness
The impact of TMS-enhanced cognitive control on forgiveness processes
Automatic classification of adult males with and without autism spectrum disorders by non-contact measurement of autonomic nervous system activation
Neural processing of equitable and inequitable distributions in 5-year-old children
Potential Neural Mediators of Mom Power Parenting Intervention Effects on Maternal Intersubjectivity and Stress Resilience
Genetic and epigenetic serotonergic markers predict the ability to recognize mental states
2019
2019
2020
2020
University of Trento
External examiner

PhD external assessor

PhD examiner and external assessor

November 2020
April 2021
University of Maastricht
External examiner

PhD external assessor

PhD examiner and external assessor

May 2021
University of Greenwich
External examiner

External Examiner for the MSc Psychology (conversion)

Research Methods in Psychology (30 credits)

Personality and Individual Differences (15 credits)

Brain and Behaviour (15 credits)

Cognitive Psychology & Neuroscience (15 credits)

Psychopathology and Clinical Psychology (15 credits)

MSc Psychology Project (60 credits)

Advanced Developmental Psychology (15 credits)

Advanced Social Psychology (Level 7) (15 credits)

November 2023
University of Padua

Research collaboration

May 2020
Prizes, awards, and accolades

Best Neuroscience Thesis (May 2012)

International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS)


Filter publications

Shotgun Metagenomic Sequencing Revealed the Prebiotic Potential of a Fruit Juice Drink with Fermentable Fibres in Healthy Humans
Bester, A., O’Brien, M., Cotter, P.D., Dam, S. and Civai, C. (2023). Shotgun Metagenomic Sequencing Revealed the Prebiotic Potential of a Fruit Juice Drink with Fermentable Fibres in Healthy Humans. Foods. 12 (13), p. 2480. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12132480

Working memory and attention in choice.
Rustichini, A., Domenech, P., Civai, C. and DeYoung, Colin G (2023). Working memory and attention in choice. PLoS ONE. 18 (10), p. e0284127. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0284127

How perceived scarcity predicted cooperation during early pandemic lockdown.
Civai, C., Caserotti, M., Carrus, E., Huijsmans, I. and Rubaltelli, E. (2022). How perceived scarcity predicted cooperation during early pandemic lockdown. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.951757

Mentalizing in value-based social decision-making: shaping expectations and social norms
Civai, C and Sanfey, A (2019). Mentalizing in value-based social decision-making: shaping expectations and social norms. in: Gilead, M and Ochsner, K (ed.) The Neural Basis of Mentalizing - A Social-Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Perspective Springer.

Does unfairness sound wrong? A cross-domain investigation of expectations in music and social decision-making
Civai, C, Teodorini, R and Carrus, E (2020). Does unfairness sound wrong? A cross-domain investigation of expectations in music and social decision-making. Royal Society Open Science. 7 (9). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190048

Neurocognitive mechanisms of reactions to second- and third-party justice violations.
Civai, C, Huijsmans, I and Sanfey, A (2019). Neurocognitive mechanisms of reactions to second- and third-party justice violations. Scientific Reports. 9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45725-8

A scarcity mindset alters neural processing underlying consumer decision making
Huijsmans, I, Ma, I, Micheli, L, Civai, C, Stallen, M and G Sanfey, A (2019). A scarcity mindset alters neural processing underlying consumer decision making. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1818572116

Effects of serotonin depletion and dopamine depletion on bimodal divided attention.
Königschulte, W, Civai, C, Hildebrand, P, Gaber, TJ, Fink, GR and Zepf, FD (2018). Effects of serotonin depletion and dopamine depletion on bimodal divided attention. World Journal of Biological Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1080/15622975.2018.1532110

The Enhancement of Social Norm Compliance: Prospects and Caveats
Civai, C and Ma, I (2017). The Enhancement of Social Norm Compliance: Prospects and Caveats. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. 1 (1), pp. 26-30. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-017-0009-4

Game Theory in Neuroeconomics
Civai, C and Hawes, DR (2016). Game Theory in Neuroeconomics. in: Reuter, M and Montag, C (ed.) Neuroeconomics Springer. pp. 13-40

Intelligence and Extraversion in the neural evaluation of delayed rewards
Civai, C, Hawes, DR, DeYoung, CG and Rustichini, A (2016). Intelligence and Extraversion in the neural evaluation of delayed rewards. Journal of Research in Personality. 61, pp. 99-108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2016.02.006

Predicting the other in cooperative interactions.
Sanfey, AG, Civai, C and Vavra, P (2015). Predicting the other in cooperative interactions. Trends in cognitive sciences. 19 (7), pp. 364-365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2015.05.009

Medial prefrontal cortex reacts to unfairness if this damages the self: a tDCS study.
Civai, C, Miniussi, C and Rumiati, RI (2014). Medial prefrontal cortex reacts to unfairness if this damages the self: a tDCS study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 10 (8), pp. 1054-1060. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsu154

Framing the ultimatum game: the contribution of simulation.
Tomasino, B, Lotto, L, Sarlo, M, Civai, C, Rumiati, R and Rumiati, RI (2013). Framing the ultimatum game: the contribution of simulation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7, p. 337. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00337

Rejecting unfairness: emotion-driven reaction or cognitive heuristic?
Civai, C (2013). Rejecting unfairness: emotion-driven reaction or cognitive heuristic? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7, p. 126. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00126

Disentangling self- and fairness-related neural mechanisms involved in the ultimatum game: an fMRI study
Corradi-Dell'Acqua, C., Civai, C., Rumiati, R.I. and Fink, G.R. (2013). Disentangling self- and fairness-related neural mechanisms involved in the ultimatum game: an fMRI study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 8 (4), p. 424–431. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nss014