Dr Melike Fourie


Research interests

I am interested in how emotions, specifically moral emotions (including guilt, pride, shame, and empathy) motivate adaptive social behaviour, i.e., understanding how emotion-related physiological changes translate into motivation and behaviour. I believe that questions of this nature are best answered by employing experimental situations that resemble real life as closely as possible. In addition, I am interested in understanding how individual differences affect behaviour, and when and how moral emotions become maladaptive.

Current research projects

My postdoctoral research involves a neuro-imaging study on empathy that draws on the unique social context of post-apartheid South Africa. This is a cross-disciplinary endeavour led by experts in the field of social psychology, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. With this project we wish to further neuro-scientific research on empathy by exploring cross-racial empathy in our local context through use of video footage from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC).


Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (University of the Free State); Dan Stein, Mark Solms, Ernesta Meintjes (University of Cape Town); Jean Decety (University of Chicago).

Teaching interests

Clinical and Cognitive Neuropsychology

Selected Publications

Fourie, M.M., Thomas, K.G.F., Amodio, D.M., Warton, C.M.R. & Meintjes, E.M. (under review). The neural correlates of guilt: An fMRI study employing a prejudice paradigm.

Locher, S.C., Barenblatt, L., Fourie, M.M., Stein, D.J., & P. Gobodo-Madikizeal (in preparation). Empathy and childhood maltreatment: A mixed-methods investigation.

Meiring, L., Subramoney, S., Thomas, K.G.F., & Fourie, M.M. (in preparation). Cognitive Depletion Effects on Empathy and Helping for Racial Out-Group Members.

Fourie, M.M., Gobodo-Madikizela, P., Stein, D.J. (2013). Empathy and forgiveness in South Africa: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In M. Linden & K. Rutkowski, (Eds.), Hurting memories and beneficial forgetting. London: Elsevier Inc.

Fourie, M.M., Kilchenmann, N., Malcolm-Smith, S., & Thomas, K.G.F. (2012). Real-time elicitation of moral emotions using a prejudice paradigm. Frontiers in Emotion Science, 3, 1-14

Fourie, M.M., Rauch, L., Morgan, B., Ellis, G.F.R., Jordaan, E.R. & Thomas, K.G.F. (2011). Guilt and pride are heartfelt, but not equally so. Psychophysiology, 48, 888-899.