Questions

We are broadly interested in how infants and children (and sometimes even adults) think about and learn from other people. Here are a few of the topics our research focuses on:

Understanding Other Individuals

How do infants and children understand others' goals, emotions, and beliefs about the world? How do they use these states of mind to predict others' behavior?

Understanding Relationships and Social Behaviors

People's interactions with one another reflect their relationships, and also the nature and meaning of social behaviors. Some social behaviors are culturally specific (e.g. particular conventions like waving or clapping), while others, such as helping, cooperation, and competition, are observed across cultures and settings. How do infants and children learn about and understand these components of social interactions?

Building Social Expectations

Although infants and children may understand and evaluate a wide range of social behavior, they often also have expectations about what kind of people and interactions they are most likely to encounter. These expectations -- of benevolent vs. indifferent interactions, of parochialism vs. generosity, of cues that will signal important information -- are likely very important for how infants and children approach social interactions, the relationships they build, and what they learn from others. We ask how these expectations are influenced by age and experience.

Learning From Others

Other people are obviously a rich source of information about the social world, but they also teach us, both intentionally and inadvertently, about the objects, environment, and technology of the physical world. What allows humans to be so adept at learning about these things from others, and how do we develop this ability?