Research Projects

MEMORY AND GENERALIZATION

In this line of research, we investigate how cues to the generality of a learning episode (i.e., whether or not the information applies to a social group) affect children’s memory for the episode and, in turn, how those memory traces support generalization.

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STATISTICAL REASONING AND GENERALIZATION

Especially for young children, it is not always obvious whether information is general or specific. For example, a child who observes her mother drinking coffee every morning could infer that many adults or mothers drink coffee, or alternatively, that this is a specific habit or preference of her mother. We are interested in how children employ ‘bottom-up’ processes such as statistical reasoning to surmount this inference problem.

RELEVANT PAPERS:
  • Social Statistics: Children employ statistical reasoning in their inferences about the scope of social behavior. Under review.

 

GENERALIZATION OF INFORMATION LEARNED FROM TEXTBOOKS

In this line of research, we investigate how children and adults generalize concepts presented in textbooks. Many textbooks present principles in “real-world” contexts in an effort to increase student motivation and engagement. One common method for implementing this involves introducing a mathematics strategy as “belonging” to a sample student (e.g., “Tim’s strategy”). We have found that this practice cues students to interpret the strategy as specific to the person presenting it, making it difficult for students to generalize those strategies to contexts in which the people are absent.

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THE ROLE OF NORMS IN EARLY SOCIAL COGNITION

Children’s inductive learning of norms is especially complex because norms are both inherently arbitrary and strongly prescriptive—they lack causal significance but are highly adaptive for children to acquire. Our research investigates normative learning by asking how children use their specific experiences with norms as a basis for their own actions and their expectations of others’ actions.

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