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Early Childhood Development

Current Research

Studies with Infants or Toddlers
Studies with Preschool Aged Children

 

Studies with Infants or Toddlers

Contributions to Individual Differences in Infants’ Understanding of Intentions

What do infants know about other people and the way that people behave? Do infants understand that human actions are usually meaningful or intentional, not accidental? If so, how does a child’s own personality (including their tendency to watch or imitate other people) contribute to their understanding of other people?  In this study we seek to answer these questions by studying infants aged 10 months to 11 months old. The study will include several steps. First, parents will be emailed a link to an questionnaire about their infant’s temperament and behavior. Next, on the day of the study, infants will be placed in a high chair (with their parent standing next to them) and will be shown a series of actions by an experimenter. For example, the experimenter will look at and then reach for a bear or a ball. We are interested in what the infant’s choose to look at, and how long they look at the experimenter. This will provide us with information about infants’ understanding of human action. Afterward, your baby will be shown a happy Elmo puppet (this is an assessment of temperamental joy), then you will be asked to play an imitation game with your baby where we will ask you to perform a series of actions (like clapping your hands and squeezing a squeaky toy).  Then an experimenter will gaze at the ceiling and then at the floor to see if your baby follows her gaze.  Then we will ask you to take your baby out of the high chair and you and your baby will play with some toys for 5 minutes, then you will be asked to read a picture book with your baby.  Finally, we will ask you to bring in your diaper bag filled with common, everyday baby items like diapers, wipes, toys, a change of clothes, a bottle, etc. We will ask you to unload the bag, then reload it, to see if your baby chooses to watch you performing an everyday activity.

You will stay with your baby during the entire study and the study will take no more than 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Either or both parents (or grandparents!) are encouraged to participate. Study participants will be given $30 for participating in the study and will be able to park for free on the Lewis and Clark campus.  Also, we provide free childcare for older siblings.  You are free to withdraw from the study at any time without loss of compensation.


 Studies with Preschool Aged Children

Contributions to Preschool Social Cognition

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What could be contributing to young children’s understanding of other people’s   thoughts and feelings?  Could a child’s own temperament, including their tendency to watch other people, act prosocially, or control their own behavior contribute to their understanding of other people?  Could media including books or TV help children to understand why people think or feel the way that they do?  This study seeks to answer these questions with three-year-old children.  The study includes an online questionnaire about your child’s temperament and behavior and a visit to the Lewis and Clark College campus for a one-hour study.  The study includes a story-book reading assessment where we ask your child how the people in the stories are feeling or what they are thinking.  Then we will complete a number of assessments to see how positive social behavior, behavioral control, vocabulary, and media exposure may be contributing to your child’s understanding of other people.

 Participants are given a total of $25 for participating in the study.  We also provide free parking and childcare during the study. You can either stay with your child or watch through a one-way mirror during the study.

 

Social Cognition and Conscience & Montessori School Readiness Study

Children in this study are 3 or 4-years old and have completed their first year of preschool.  The purpose of this research is two-fold:

1. The first goal of this research is to assess the impact of social cognitive reasoning (understanding of thoughts and feelings) on preschool-aged children’s positive social behaviors including empathic, helping, altruistic, and reconciliatory behaviors.

2. The second goal of this research is to assess school-readiness in Montessori preschool children.  The Montessori preschool children have already participated in this study, now we are interviewing a comparison group of same-aged children who have completed one year of non-Montessori preschool.  The study assesses standard social, behavioral, and academic school readiness skills.  These skills are included in every major school readiness assessment throughout the US, including early literacy and numeracy skills, cooperation, self-control, attention, and motivation.

Participants are given a total of $20 for participating in the study which takes about an hour to complete.  We also provide free parking and childcare during the study. You can either stay with your child or watch through a one-way mirror during the study.