Graduate Trainee Profile:
Tage Rai
Graduate Trainee - Psychology
Advisor: Professor Alan Fiske
Year Entered Doctoral Program at UCLA: 2006
Masters Degree: UCLA 2007
Undergraduate School/Major: Emory University

Moral psychologists have traditionally considered morality to be judgments or intuitions of right and wrong action that are independent of the social-relational contexts in which they occur. Consequently, studies of moral psychology are often expressly non-relational, removing any possible influence of knowledge of established social norms, social relationships with and among the actors involved, and consequences for future interactions (Mikhail, 2007). My program of research is aimed toward reconceptualizing much of moral psychology as embedded in social-relational cognition and unpacking the ways in which different social-relational contexts entail correspondingly unique moral motives and beliefs. Using Fiske's (1991) Relational Models Theory (RMT), I am investigating whether 1) there are different ways to structure social relationships that lead to unique moral obligations and violations, 2) how these different approaches are enacted, or constituted, such that people are motivated to pursue the moral obligations that are required by them, and 3) all else being equal, whether there are conditions under which individuals would be more likely to engage in one type of relationship over another, leading to different moral beliefs and intuitions in otherwise identical situations. In addition, I am investigating constraints on cognitive processing that inhibit our ability to conceptualize relationships, and consequently, lead to feelings of apathy and a failure to realize our moral obligations.

Publications and conference presentations:

Rai, T. S. (in press). Thinking in societies and cultures. To appear in K.J. Holyoak & R.G. Morrison (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning.

Rai, T. S., & Holyoak, K. J. (in press). The rational hypocrite: Informal argumentation and moral hypocrisy. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
click here to read the PDF

Nettle, D., Panchanathan, K., Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (in press). The evolution of giving, sharing, and lotteries. Current Anthropology
click here to read the PDF

Rai, T. S. & Fiske, A. P. (2011). Moral Psychology is Relationship Regulation: Moral Motives for Unity, Hierarchy, Equality, and Proportionality. Psychological Review, 118, here to download the PDF

Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2010). ODD (observation and description deprived) psychological research. Commentary in Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 33, 106-107. click here to download the PDF

Rai, T. S. & Holyoak, K. J. (2010). Moral Principles or Consumer Preferences? Alternative Framings of the Trolley Problem. Cognitive Science, 34, 311-321. Paper presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Conference, January 2010. click here to download the PDF

Fiske, A. & Rai, T. S. (2008, March). Morality as mechanisms for sustaining social relationships. Paper presented at the Arts and Humanities Research Center's Culture and the Mind Workshop on Moral Psychology and Norms, Sheffield, UK.

Rai, "A Small Price to Pay: Small Losses Increase Attractiveness and Reduce Scope Neglect" (in prep.). Oral presentation at Society for Judgment and Decision Making Annual Conference, November, 2007.

Rai & Duke, "Family Narratives and Physiological Coping Responses to 9/11" (under review). Oral presentation at Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference, May, 2006. Poster Presentation at University of Chicago Alfred P. Sloan Annual Conference for Working Families, May, 2006.

Honors and awards:

UCLA Graduate Division Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2011-2012
UCLA Center for Society and Genetics Graduate Fellowship, 2010-2011
UCLA Psychology Research Mentorship Fellowship, 2009-2010
National Science Foundation IGERT Fellowship, UCLA Interdisciplinary Relationship Science Program, 2007-2009
UCLA Graduate Division Rapid Start and Excellence in Research Award, 2007, 2008
National Science Foundation Extra Mural incentive award, Summer 2007
UCLA Graduate Division Summer Research Mentorship Award, 2007
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention Award, 2007
University of California, Los Angeles University Fellowship, 2006-2007
Graduated Summa Cum Laude, Emory University, 2006
Fellow, Emory University Alfred P. Sloan Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life, 2005-2006
Awarded Highest Honors for Senior Honors Thesis, 2006
Member, Psi Chi National Honor Society, 2005-present
Dean's List Recipient: Spring 2003, Fall 2003, Spring 2004, Spring 2005, Fall 2005

Current hobbies, interests, extracurricular activities:
These days, I play Frisbee, ping pong, and tennis well enough to consider myself a has-been. I read comic books, normal books, and anything else with words. In addition to relationships, I am interested in the spread of ideas, causal attribution in the absence of anything to attribute to, and mind-body relationships.