Current Studies

Comparison in imitation learning

Young children can copy other people’s actions, allowing them to learn quickly about the world around them. In this study we ask how the similarity and diversity among the people who are modelling the actions affect children’s imitative act. Are they more likely to imitate 2 similar people or 2 different-looking people?

Analogical reasoning in bilinguals

Recent research has suggested that bilinguals may have general cognitive advantage in their executive function in comparison to their monolingual peers. As executive function may play a role in analogical reasoning, We are interested to explore whether bilinguals differ than monolinguals in their analogical reasoning.

Teaching using alignment

Pretend that you don’t know what “red” means. Now, to teach you the meaning of red I give you two things : A “red” bottle and a “red” cup, and I tell you that these are both “red.” You will learn the meaning of “red” because the commonality that comes out from aligning a red bottle and a red cup is, well, “redness.” Now contrast this with me giving you two “red” bottles instead. If I tell you that both are “red”, you can map “red” to (at least) either one of the commonalities: “bottleness” or “redness.” That is, comparing two red bottles is not very informative for your learning¬† of “red, ” but aligning a red bottle and a red cup is an informative comparison. How do children make use of the more informative comparison? For example, will they choose to teach others (e.g., their peers) using the bottle and the cup instead of using 2 red bottles?

Diversity in Social Category

In order to generalize a particular conclusion, it is best to see this conclusion in a diverse sample. For example, if you observe that disease grax is observed in birds, horses, and snakes, you are likely to predict that this disease can affect humans. In contrast, if you see this disease only in canaries, robins, and doves, you are not likely to predict that grax will affect humans. This kind of reasoning plays an important role in everyday cognition, and we are investigating how young children employ this reasoning (or not) in the social domain.


Fall 2013 student projects:

  • Using comparison to learn numbers (Claire Broad, ’13 & Alexis Dziedziech ’13)

  • Similarity and Imitation in Preschoolers (Ana Apostoleris ’13)