My research examines children’s development as social learners. In my research I strive to incorporate diverse methodologies from anthropology, educational psychology, and cognitive psychology to examine cultural development from a more nuanced perspective. I am also dedicated to the practical application of findings in developmental psychology and work to conduct studies that will inform the development of policy and practice with young children.
Children's flexible use of imitation - How do children decide when to faithfully imitate others versus only imitating a desired end goal? I have examined children's attention to different social cues when determining which approach to take when imitating. This research has included children from both the U.S. and Vanuatu. I am currently expanding this research program to further explore children's imitation in more naturalistic contexts.
The socialization of children's flexible imitation - In Western cultural contexts, parents are integral players in their children's development. This project seeks to examine the different behaviors parents engage in when helping children to learn conventional versus instrumental behaviors.
Imitative learning in third party contexts - For children across a variety of cultural contexts, learning occurs within peer group settings rather than individually as is examined by most experimental studies. This project seeks to examine the types of behaviors children engage in when attempting to learn new conventional versus instrumental behaviors.
Children's understanding of the unobservable - How do children learn about concepts that they cannot see for themselves? In collaboration with researchers at Boston University and Harvard Graduate school of education, I am examining how children learn from different sources about scientific concepts, such as germs and oxygen, and religious concepts, such as angels. Although scientific and religious concepts might seem quite distinct, from the perspective of a novice, they may share many similarities - particularly in regard to children's ability to direct observe the concept.