About me

Jimena Zapata

My name is Jimena Zapata. I am a practising lawyer and recently completed my Ph.D in Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU, Germany) and the University of Granada (UGR, Spain). My research lies at the intersection of the Philosophy of Mind & Language and Moral Psychology. I work at the Cognition, Values and Behaviour Research Group (CVBE) led by Prof Ophelia Deroy.

Areas of interest:

Experimental Moral Philosophy | Social and Political Philosophy of Language | Hate Speech | Philosophy of Mind Moral Psychology | Public Policies | Philosophy of Law.


I am working on:

I am currently examining how bystanders’ responses to a hate speech incident affect one of its core dimensions: the public perception of the harm it causes to victims and society. By using experimental methods from the cognitive sciences, I explore whether ordinary citizens perceive hate speech incidents as more harmful when they occur in front of silent, passive bystanders, whether they find a voicing-opposition response helpful in reducing the harm and whether a collective opposition reduces the damage better than an individual.

I have worked on:

Looking at the high proportion of underreported hate speech attacks and the relatively few cases that end with sanctions, my previous work explored whether that apparent leniency towards speech harm was ingrained in our moral dispositions, making us evaluate the damage caused by words as less harmful and worthy of punishment and denunciation than that caused by (physical) acts when both stem from identical hateful intent and create same consequences for the victims. In a Pre-Registered Report (N=1309), we contradicted that possibility: participants consistently rated verbal hate attacks as more deserving of punishment and denunciation and more harmful to the victims than nonverbal attacks. We explain this difference by the concept of action aversion, suggesting that ordinary citizens have different intrinsic associations with interactions involving words compared to bodily actions regardless of consequences.

Before that, I obtained a Master in Logic and Philosophy of Science (UGR, Spain), writing a thesis titled “The Context-Dependence of the Normative Terms in Spanish Supreme Court Judgments”. 

I have worked as a practising lawyer for over fifteen years.


Peer reviewed articles:

Zapata, J., Deroy, O. Ordinary citizens are more severe towards verbal than nonverbal hate-motivated incidents with identical consequences. Sci Rep 13, 7126 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-33892-8

Zapata, J., Sulik, J., von Wulffen, C. & Deroy, O. Bystanders’ collective responses set the norm against hate speech (Forthcoming in Nature Humanities & Social Sciences Communications)

Zapata, J. The collective dimension of hate speech (In preparation)

Conference Talks & Posters

 04/2020: Assessing moral judgments against hate speech: An empirical and philosophical study. Cognition, Values and Behaviour Lab Meetings, University of Munich, Germany.

06/2022: “Might I help you? Assessing bystanders’ perceived role in reducing hate speech harm”. APPLY-FILOLAB International Summer School, University of Granada, Spain.

09/2022: “Might I help you? Assessing bystanders’ perceived role in reducing hate speech harm”. Interdisciplinary Summer School on Democracy, University of Wroclaw, Poland.

11/2022: “The collective dimension of bystanders’ opposition against hate speech”. VII Jornadas FILO-DOC, University of Granada, Spain.

05/2023 “Opposing Hate Speech: A shared responsibility?”. Making sense of Agency: Interdisciplinary Workshop on Cognition, Agency and Responsibility, l’Ecole normale supérieure and Institute Jean Nicod (Paris)  Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (Munich) and the University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen).

05/2023: “Implicit collective decisions: The case of hate speech”. XIV Dubrovnik Conference on Cognitive Science, Croatia.

06/2023: Ordinary citizens are more severe towards verbal than nonverbal hate attacks with identical consequences. Cognition, Values and Behaviour Lab, University of Munich, Germany.

CVBE Projects