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Research Site Close-up:

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UNITED KINGDOM  •  Dublin, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Cultural-religious groups include Catholics and Protestants living in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom; as well as Catholics and Protestants living in the Republic of Ireland

PIs:  Jocelyn Dautel (Lead) • Laura Taylor (Co-PI) • Aidan Feeney (Co-PI) • John Coley (Co-PI)


PI: Kushnir

Jocelyn Dautel
Laura Taylor
Aidan Feeney

Jocelyn Dautel (PI) is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the School of Psychology at Queen's University Belfast. Dr. Dautel studies how children navigate their social worlds, especially when they are divided. Using methods from cognitive and social development, she investigates when, and how, social and cultural contexts influence social cognition, with a focus on the development of non-visible social categories (e.g. language, religion, nationality). Her research finds that variation in children’s cultural and historical context, exposure to diversity, family socialization, and perceptions of intergroup conflict, can all influence social and moral cognition and behavior. Dr. Dautel has published comparative research with samples from Croatia, Kosovo, Ireland, Israel, Northern Ireland, the Republic of North Macedonia, South Korea, and the USA, contributing to debates about unique and universal processes in the development of social cognition and intergroup behaviors.


Laura Taylor (co-PI) is an Associate Professor in Psychology at University College Dublin. Dr. Taylor integrates peace studies with developmental and social psychology to study positive development and intergroup relations among children. She studies cross-cultural risk and resilience processes related to peacebuilding among children in divided societies, with a focus on family transmission of values and beliefs. Dr. Taylor has advanced quantitative training uses multiple methods (e.g., qualitative, experimental), and has developed and adapted cross-cultural measures for children and families. Her long-term goal is to develop programs to enable children and families to engage in positive social change. She has published collaborative research in Colombia, Croatia, Kosovo, Ireland, Israel, Republic of North Macedonia, and Northern Ireland.

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Aidan Feeney (co-PI) is a Professor of Psychology at Queen's University Belfast. Dr. Feeney conducts research on thinking and reasoning broadly defined and he has pursued a variety of lines of research relating to how children and adults’ knowledge and beliefs about the world impacts on their deductive and category-based inductive reasoning. He also has interests in the roles of experience and educational environment on essentialist and other intuitions about religion and national categories. This work has had both developmental and cross-cultural dimensions. In parallel with this theoretically-motivated work Dr. Feeney is increasingly motivated to carry out work which has real world impacts and has developed partnerships with local organisations to pursue this agenda.


John Coley (co-PI) conducts research addressing fundamental questions in cognitive science, framed by the view that humans possess powerful intuitive frameworks for understanding important domains of experience. These intuitive frameworks—arising through an interaction of evolved cognitive structures, personal experience, and culture—provide us with fast and efficient, but ultimately fallible, guidelines for dealing with complexity. In his Conceptual Organization, Reasoning, and Education Laboratory (CORE Lab) at Northeastern University, Dr. Coley investigates how people organize their informal, intuitive knowledge about the world; how they use that knowledge in reasoning, explaining, understanding, and learning; how these processes develop through childhood; and how they change with experience and context.

John Coley

Hannah Kramer (Postdoc) is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Kramer is also associated with Queen's University Belfast and Boston University. She is broadly interested in how children and adults think about people. In particular, Dr. Kramer studies the development of thinking about minds, emotion, time, and social groups. As part of the Developing Belief Network, Dr. Kramer is bridging these long-standing interests with the development of religious concepts to understand how children form beliefs about their own and other people's religious identities.

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Megan Stutesman (Postdoc) is a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. Stutesman is an applied developmental psychologist interested in social cognitive development. Broadly, her work focuses on how context influences development, and more specifically, her work examines how our universal human behavior of engaging with the arts impacts development. She primarily takes mixed-methods research approaches with community partner collaborations.

Photographs of Belfast, a research site for this sub-grant.

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