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Current studies

Do infants understand the physical properties of people?

We are interested in whether infants apply the beliefs that they have about objects to people. For example, adults know that a person cannot float in midair. What about babies? In this study, infants watch a series of video clips of an actress walking on, and then off of a platform. If infants understand that people cannot float, then they should be surprised to see the actress walk off the platform and float. To determine this we will measure how long your child looks at the events.  

 

Do infants understand the physical properties of people?

Adults know that even when a person is hidden from sight that person retains the same physical and spatial properties. For example, the person will remain the same height. Do young infants understand this too? Your baby will watch a series of videos in which a tall actor walks behind a wall with a large window in it. The tall actor is so tall that he must be seen in the window when he walks behind the wall. In some of the videos, the tall actor will appear in the window and in other videos he will not. If infants understand the permanence of the physical properties of people, then they should be surprised when the tall actor passes behind the wall and is not seen in the window.

 

Are young children aware of their own understanding?

In this study, we are interested in when and how children interact with others to advance their own understanding. Are they aware of their own understanding? How? If things go awry will they try and advance their understanding or repair the misunderstanding? Here is the scenario: your child will be in a room playing with an experimenter and various toys and objects. The experimenter will then name objects, occasionally misnaming them. They will then ask your child questions about what was said. We are interested in children’s reactions to these situations.

 

How do young children interact with animals?

In this study, we hope to learn not only how children understand other people, but how they understand animals. Here is the scenario: your child will meet a friendly pet dog who is used to playing with children. This dog will remain behind a secure pet fence for the entire session. Your child may feed or give the dog a toy through the fence but will not have direct contact with the dog. We are interested in how children will respond when they see a dog struggling to solve this problem.