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Cultural-religious groups include Buddhists and Muslims living in Singapore; as well as religiously unaffiliated people living in and around Shanghai, China

PIs:  Tamar Kushnir (PI) • Shaun Nichols (Co-PI) • Yue Yu (Co-PI) • Xin (Alice) Zhao (Co-PI)


PI: Kushnir

Tamar Kushnir
Yue Yu
Xin Zhao

Tamar Kushnir (PI) is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, and the director of the Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory and co-director of the Cognitive Science Program. She received her M.A. in Statistics and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, and was previously on the faculty in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. Kushnir's research examines learning and conceptual change in young children with a focus on social learning and social cognition. Her work is motivated by a long-standing curiosity about the developing mind, and in particular by how children learn about themselves and others from actively exploring the world around them.  Research topics include: mechanisms of causal learning, the developmental origins of our beliefs in free will and agency, cultural influences on early social and moral beliefs, normative reasoning, epistemic trust, and the role of imagination in social cognition, motivation and decision making.


Shaun Nichols (co-PI) is Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University. He works at the intersection of philosophy and cognitive science, and his research concerns the psychological underpinnings of philosophical thought. He is the author of Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment, Bound: Essays on Free Will and Moral Responsibility, and Rational Rules: Towards a Theory of Moral Learning, and he has published over 100 articles in academic journals in philosophy and psychology.


Yue Yu (co-PI) is an Education Research Scientist in the Centre for Research in Child Development and the Centre for Character and Citizenship Education, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Using experimental, observational and computational methods, Yue studies social learning and social cognition in early childhood, especially how early learning is shaped by the social context in which it takes place. His current research topics include pedagogical questioning, imitation, and children’s understanding of choice. His ultimate goal is to 1) address the theoretical question of why humans are uniquely efficient in accumulating knowledge, and 2) inform parents and educators about ways to facilitate children’s learning in formal and informal educational settings.


Xin (Alice) Zhao (co-PI) is an Assistant Professor in the Department Educational Psychology, and the director of the Culture and Child Development Laboratory at East China Normal University. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. Dr. Zhao’s research examines young children’s social cognitive development across cultures. Her research focuses on children’s developing beliefs about free will, choice and norm, as well as the implications of these beliefs on children’s behavioral regulation and social evaluation. She also examines the role of social and cultural contexts in children’s developing social cognition. Her research has been published in Child Development, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Cognitive Development, etc.

Shaun Nichols

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

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

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