Clara Pretus, PhD

Social neuroscience research

Clara Pretus

Clara Pretus

Postdoctoral Researcher

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

I am a postdoctoral researcher in social neuroscience at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, a visiting scholar at the Social Identity and Morality Lab at New York University and an affiliate at the Center of Conflict Studies and Field Research (ARTIS Research).

I obtained my degree in Biology at the Universitat de Barcelona, my master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at King’s College London and my PhD at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2016). I have also visited the Bernstein Center of Computational Neuroscience in Berlin (2016) and the Neuroeconomics Lab at the Haas Business School of the University of California in Berkeley (2017).

My work examines how political extremism impacts decision-making in contexts of political polarization. Particularly, I am interested in how extreme social identities and moral values shape people’s political beliefs and motivation to share misinformation and engage in political violence.

I often study these issues using special samples, including far-right supporters and militants of armed jihad. In my research, I use a multi-method approach including social cognitive tasks, cross-cultural surveys, and neuroimaging.

I have published as a first author in multiple scientific high-impact journals, including Social Affective and Cognitive Neuroscience, Human Brain Mapping, and Royal Society Open Science.

I have also written research essays in the The Conversation, The Atlantic and The Washington Post, and have been invited as a speaker at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs (US), the Center for Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Oxford (UK), and the UN conference on AI, Peace, and Security, London (UK).

My work on violent extremism has been cited in major policy speeches on counter violent extremism (Neil Basu in Prevent conversation at ICT Summit, Counter Terrorism Policing).

Ongoing projects


Comparing accuracy-based versus identity-based interventions to reduce partisan misinformation sharing

Political violence

How do moral values and social identity influence engagement in political violence?