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Post Doc Award Recipients

Jonathan Kominsky (Harvard Graduate School of Education)


The Talk of the Town project is an effort to create a new mobile-app-based data collection platform for studies of developing belief. Jonathan has constructed a technical proof-of-concept app and evaluated platforms to ensure that he could achieve all of the proposed functionality at the app level.  The next phase of the project is to take everything Jonathan has learned from the technical proof of concept work and create the actual functional version of the platform. The goal is to have the system ready for initial technical piloting in August (creating a test study, sending it to a researcher phone, receiving data), at which point the aim is to enter a research agreement and begin full piloting in the fall.

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Yian Xu (Conceptual Development and Social Cognition Lab, New York University)


Yian received her B.A. in French literature from Peking University, Ed.M. in human development and psychology from Harvard University, and completed her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on the role of culture, language, and experience in shaping how children and adults make sense of the world, especially between western and east Asian societies. Currently, her postdoctoral fellowship project aims to reveal how psychological essentialism—an intuitive framework for understanding the structure of the biological and social world—is associated with children’s early acquisition and development of religious beliefs across cultural contexts.

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Haleh Yazdi (University of California San Diego)


Haleh received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of California San Diego and M.Sc. from the University of Oxford. Her research takes a cross-cultural approach to examining how children form group biases, moral beliefs, and notions of fairness and justice in the world. She has conducted studies in Canada, India, Iran, Mexico, and the U.S. to see how resource availability, cultural cohesion, and social stability affect children’s social cognition. A primary goal of Haleh's work is to understand the role that cultural input plays in shaping prosocial behaviors, such as cooperation and trust, with the larger aim to improve group relations globally.

Dissertation Fellowship Recipient
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Pearl Han Li (Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota).

Pearl received her B.A. from Peking University, Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and she is currently a doctoral candidate in Developmental Psychology at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, working with Dr. Melissa Koenig. Pearl’s research interests focus on (1) the different ways in which testimony can affect children’s moral decision making; (2) the interpersonal and collaborative aspects of children’s testimonial learning; and (3) the social and cultural mechanisms that make children either too resistant, or too credulous to trust adult testimony, especially when children face claims that contradict their own intuitions and prior knowledge. Currently, her postdoctoral fellowship project focuses on the role of testimony in children’s acquisition of moral knowledge. In two cross-cultural studies conducted in the United States and China, Pearl’s dissertation project explores (1) which types of testimony are most powerful in moving children’s moral judgments; (2) how children balance independent thinking and reliance on testimony when acquiring moral and empirical knowledge, and (3) how parental and cultural values contribute to children’s moral agency and moral learning.

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