• Hello! I'm Diego

    A Social Psychology PhD student at Arizona State University working in the Cooperation and Conflict Lab with Dr. Aktipis. I'm also a researcher in The Human Generosity Project, where we use principles from biology, anthropology, and psychology to understand the nature of generosity across cultures. ​

  • Research Projects

    I study how and why people feel empathy for each other and how sources from the environment such as the availability of resources and predictability of challenges influence people's willingness or ability to mirror other’s emotions. I also study how feeling empathy sometimes increases our motivation to help others; and at other times, hinders our motivation to do so. My work also looks for environmental and social sources of prosociality more broadly.




    In this project we find evidence that positive interdependence attenuates the empathy-altruism relationship. Such that empathic concern only motivates helping in the absence of outcome interdependence.

    We explore situations in which sharing food leads to loses of trust and prosociality, both perceptually and behaviorally.

    Do challenges and mutual aid explain social class differences in empathy?

    In this project we aim to test the assumption that social class differences in affective empathy are explained by the extent to which low social class people, who absent of money, need to engage in mutual aid to solve ongoing social and financial challenges.

    Need-based vs. debt-based transfers: predictability of risks determine expectations of repayment

    Southwest American ranchers are less likely to expect repayment for lending a hand when the reason for helping is perceived to happen at unpredictable times. Here, we aim to replicate and extend these findings among a more diverse population.

    Is empathetic distress modulated by relatedness or perceived fitness interdependence?

    Empathetic distress reduces helping motivation, but people who can down-regulate their distress are more likely to help. Here we propose that emotion regulation should be higher when the target is positively interdependent with self.

  • Education

    Arizona State University

    M.A. Social Psychology, 2019

    In 2019 I graduated from Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. The topic of my thesis was on the experimental effects of food sharing on cooperation.

    The University of New Mexico

    B.S. Psychology, 2015

    B.A. Evolutionary Anthropology, 2015

    In 2015 I graduated from The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM with distinctions in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude) and Anthropology (Magna Cum Laude). The topic of my undergraduate thesis was on the quasi-experimental relationship between ingroup vs. outgroup empathy and altruism.

  • Publications

    Guevara Beltran, D., Shiota M. N., & Aktipis, A. (forthcoming). On the proximate and ultimate functions of the social emotions with regard to cooperation. In L. Al-Shawaf & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Evolution and the Emotions. New York: Oxford University Press.


    Ayers, J. D., Guevara Beltran, D., Van Horn, A., Cronk, L., Todd, P. M., & Aktipis, A. (2021). The changing landscape of friendship in the pandemic: Males, younger people, and less educated people experience more negative effects of the pandemic on their friendships. PsyArXiv.


    Guevara Beltran, D., Isch, C., Ayers, J. D., Alcock, J., Brinkworth, J. F., Cronk, L., … Aktipis, A. (2020). Mask wearing is associated with COVID-19 Prevalence, Risk, Stress, and Future Orientation. PsyArXiv.


    Ayers, J. D.*, Guevara Beltran, D.*, Alcock, J., Baciu, C., Claessens, S., Hudson, N. M., Miller, G., Tidball K., Winfrey P., Zarka, E., Todd, M. P. & Aktipis A. (2020). How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting cooperation? PsyArXiv. 


    Cronk, L., Guevara Beltran, D., Mercado D. R., & Aktipis A. (Accepted). “A solidarity-type world.” Need-based helping among ranchers in the Southwestern United States. Human Nature.


    Sznycer, D., Ayers, J. D., Sullivan, D., Guevara Beltran, D., van den Akker, O. R., Munoz, A., … Aktipis, A. (2020). A new measure of perceived fitness interdependence: Factor structure and validity. PsyArXiv. 


    Aktipis, A., & Guevara Beltran, D. (2020). Can some microbes promote host stress and benefit evolutionarily from this strategy?. BioEssays, 2000188.


    Vuletich, H. A., Andrade, F. C., Guevara Beltran, D., & Tissera, H. (2019). Social and personality psychology PhDs on the academic job market: Characteristics and outcomes: A technical report by the SPSP student committee. Retrieved from the website of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology: http://spsp.org/sites/default/files.


    MacFarlan, S. J., Schacht, R., Schniter, E., Garcia, J. J., Guevara Beltran, D., and Lerback, J. The role of dispersal and school attendance on reproductive dynamics in small populations. Submitted.


    Schniter, E., Macfarlan, S. J., Garcia, J. J., Ruiz-Campos, G., Guevara Beltran, D., Bowin, B., and Lerback, L. Age Appropriate Wisdom? Ethnobiological Knowledge Ontogeny in Pastoralist Mexican Choyeros. Under revision.


    Macfarlan, S.J., J.J. Garcia, E. Schniter, D. Guevara Beltran, J.G. Amador Bibo, G. Ruiz-Campos. (2019) Geographic Distribution: Elgaria velazquezi (Central Baja California Alligator Lizard). Herpetological Review 50(1):10.

    Vigil, J., DiDomenico, J., Strenth, C., Coulombe, P., Kruger, E., Mueller, A., Guevara Beltran, D., & Adams, I. (2015). Experimenter effects on pain reporting in women vary across the menstrual cycle. International Journal of Endocrinology.


    Vigil, J. M., Strenth, C. R., Mueller, A. A., DiDomenico, J., Guevara Beltran, D., Coulombe, P., & Smith, J. E. (2015). The curse of curves; Sex differences in the associations between body shape and pain expression. Human Nature.