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 a puppet show featuring two groups of puppets. One group has a puppet that acts in a helpful manner (pushing another puppet up a hill), while the other group has a puppet that acts in a harmful way (preventing another puppet from climbing up a hill). We then see if the infants prefer other members of the group containing the helpful puppet and avoid other members of the group containing the harmful puppet.
Short discrimination task for 8–12 month olds. Babies watch one triangle jump a bunch of times, then a different triangle jump, and we analyze their looking times to see if they notice the difference! Short and sweet. Please inquire for information or use the link above to find our submission form!
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