At the Center for Research with Infants and Toddlers, our research explores the development of conceptual understanding in infants and young children with a focus on how they come to make sense of their social worlds. We are broadly concerned with the origins of the highly developed abilities that humans possess to recognize, remember, and reason about others as members of different social groups. We are particularly interested in understanding the nature and scope of the precocious processes that underlie the later-emerging development of social categorization, group-based inference, and moral reasoning – as well as the conceptual habits that underlie them.
While early social cognition is our current primary focus, this lab is a new endeavor and we are open to exploring other areas of early childhood cognitive development.
These studies examine whether infants who evaluate one individual positively or negatively also evaluate different members of that individual's group in the same way. We are also interested in what leads them to generalize across members of a group. Is a group whose members behave similarly seen as more of a group than one whose members resemble each other in appearance?
To explore these issues, we present infants with dynamic shows featuring animated characters. In some cases, they see individual characters; in others, they see groups of similar characters. We watch your baby's reaction to their behaviors (for example, measuring how long they look at or look away from the screen), and use this information to make inferences about their preferences and attitudes towards the characters. Babies love the fun sounds and movements they make!
In our current study, we show 8–12-month-old infants an animation with helping and hindering characters as they interact with a circle trying to ascend a small hill. We observe their level of interest in the behaviors of these characters, as well as their expectations for which character the circle will prefer. Please email us with questions or sign up using the link just above this section!
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