Our 10 inaugural research teams are working with people from many religious and spiritual traditions in 30 field sites around the world.
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California, US • Mexico City & Yucatán, MEXICO • Santo Domingo, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; traditional Mayan, Afro-Caribbean, and other beliefs and practices
Rebekah Richert (PI) is one of the primary investigators on the Developing Belief Network, as well as the PI leading this research team. See her full bio here. Postdocs Boli Reyes-Jaquez and Kara Weisman are also part of this team.
Elizabeth Davis (co-PI) is an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on understanding how emotion regulation relates to adaptive outcomes (e.g., learning) and maladaptive outcomes (e.g., anxiety) in childhood, with a focus on identifying regulatory strategies that children can use to effectively alleviate negative emotion. She also aims to identify individual differences in children’s biology and social experiences that determine whether they can regulate emotion effectively, as well as mechanisms responsible for effective emotion regulation (e.g., attentional focus).
Laura Shneidman (co-PI) is an assistant professor of Psychology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, USA. She previously held professorial positions in the Psychology department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in the Interdisciplinary Program on Educational Policies and Practices (PIPE). Dr. Shneidman’s research focuses on early social learning in diverse social contexts. She has worked for over 10 years in Yucatec Mayan communities in Southeastern Mexico where she has used experimental and observational techniques in order to explore the relation between caregiver input and exploratory and observational learning in infancy and early childhood.
Nova Scotia, CANADA • Mantaro Valley, PERU • Kabarole, UGANDA
Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Anglican Christianity, Protestant Christianity, & other traditions
Katherine McAuliffe (PI) studies the forces that shape and sustain cooperative societies. Work in her lab—the Cooperation Lab at Boston College—combines approaches from psychology, anthropology and evolutionary biology to address big questions about the origins of cooperation. For instance, how do children acquire norms of cooperation across societies, when do they begin to comply with these norms and when do they begin to enforce them in others? She believes that a better understanding of the psychology that underlies cooperative norms can allow us to harness the power of those norms, to promote cooperation in children and adults alike.
New England, US • Antioquia, COLOMBIA • Taipei and surrounding areas, TAIWAN
Many religious traditions
Kathleen Corriveau (PI) is one of the primary investigators on the Developing Belief Network, as well as the PI leading this research team. See her full bio here. Postdoc Kirsten Lesage and graduate research associate Kelly Cui are also part of this team.
Eva E. Chen (co-PI) received an Ed.D. in Human Development and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as a B.A. with Honors and Distinction in Psychology from Stanford University. She served as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at The University of Hong Kong before moving to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Social Science. Dr. Chen's research interests center around the social cognitive developmental processes of young children across different social backgrounds, and she has worked closely with kindergartens in the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.
Nottingham, England, UK • Tsimané & Mosetén villages, Amazonia, BOLIVIA
Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Evangelical Christianity, traditional beliefs, secularism, & other traditions
Emily Burdett (PI) completed a DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2013. She is Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham and a research associate post with the University of Oxford. Her work explores various aspects of 'culture'; these include the development and spread of skills, tool use, morals, norms, and supernatural ideas. Her work uses an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and experimental approach. She has published numerous studies regarding children’s developing understanding of supernatural agent concepts and many of these have involved cross-cultural studies in locations such as Israel, Albania, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic.
Michael Gurven (co-PI) received his PhD in 2000 in Human Evolutionary Ecology at the University of New Mexico. His research group studies how ecological and social factors shape behavior, physiology, health and psychology. Incorporating insights and perspectives from both the life and social sciences provides a unique research environment for explaining human diversity. He has conducted fieldwork with South American indigenous populations for over two decades, and has published over 200 articles that take an evolutionary perspective on behavior, health, physiology and psychology. He is Professor of Anthropology, Chair of Integrative Anthropological Sciences at the University of California Santa Barbara, co-Director of the Tsimane Health and Life History Project, and Area Director of Biodemography and Evolution at UCSB.
Helen Elizabeth Davis (co-PI) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. Her research focuses on the evolution of childhood, social learning, and cognition across the lifecourse. Davis received her PhD from the University of New Mexico in Evolutionary Anthropology in 2015. Utilizing natural experiments, Davis has worked with Tsimané people of Bolivia for over 10 years in collaboration with the Tsimané Health and Life History Project. In 2017, she established a fieldsite in northern Namibia and southern Angola, among the OvaTwa and Himba peoples, in collaboration with Profs. Joe Henrich, Michael Muthukrishna, and Elizabeth Cashdan. Davis is also the cofounder and current president of One Pencil Project, a 501(c)(3) education and disaster relief nonprofit.
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UNITED KINGDOM • Dublin, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Protestant Christianity and Catholicism
Jocelyn Dautel (PI) is a Lecturer 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 a Lecturer in Psychology at University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. 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.
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.
Greater Tzaneen, SOUTH AFRICA
African Independent Church, Charismatic Evangelical Christianity, and traditional beliefs
Amanda Tarullo (PI) is an Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University, where she is also Director of the Developmental Science Doctoral Program and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Systems Neuroscience. Her research focuses on how sociocontextual factors shape the developing brain and biological stress systems, and on identifying neurodevelopmental mechanisms that link early life stress to child cognitive outcomes. She is an Associate Editor of Developmental Psychobiology and was named an Outstanding Early Career Psychologist by APA Division 52, International Psychology.
Denise Evans (co-PI) is a Principal Researcher at the Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office (HE2RO) who has over 10 years of research experience focused on optimizing HIV, TB and drug-resistant TB treatment outcomes. Denise has a joint position in the School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand as a Senior Researcher. Her primary research interests include socio-economic consequences and management of TB, and community-based interventions to address health needs of people in under resourced communities. She is currently co-PI on a SA-MRC Grand Challenges South Africa funded project to evaluate impact of a community health worker (CHW) home-visit intervention on early childhood development.
Peter Rockers (co-PI) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, where he is also Director of the Global Health Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation certificate program. His research is primarily concerned with evaluating the impacts of early childhood interventions in low- and middle-income countries using experimental methods. He is involved in ongoing cluster-randomized trials in South Africa, Zambia, and Indonesia testing the effects of home- and community-based interventions on child neurodevelopment and related outcomes. Dr. Rockers received a Doctor of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Vadodara, Gujarat, INDIA • Tel Aviv, ISRAEL
Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism
Mahesh Srinivasan (PI) is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He directs the UC Berkeley Language and Cognitive Development Laboratory, which explores how linguistic, cognitive, and social abilities arise and interact during human development and across different cultures. Dr. Srinivasan’s work on social cognitive development has addressed topics including the development of social group concepts, normative development, and religious cognition. His work has been published in journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cognition, Child Development, and Developmental Science, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
Gil Diesendruck (co-PI) is a Full Professor at the Department of Psychology, Director of the Language and Cognitive Development Laboratory at the Gonda Brain Research Center, and currently Head of the Interdisciplinary Unit, all at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. His research – focusing on children's cultural learning and social categorization – has been funded by the Israel Science Foundation, German-Israel Foundation, and Volkswagen Foundation, and has been published in leading journals in Psychology. He has been an Associate Editor of the journal Child Development, and is currently Associate Editor in the Annual Reviews of Developmental Psychology and Journal of Cognition and Development.
Audun Dahl (co-PI) is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work centers on the development of concerns with right and wrong from infancy to adulthood. Using behavioral experiments, naturalistic observations, structured interviews, and surveys, his lab has examined the development of helping and harming through everyday interactions in infancy; judgments and reasoning based on moral and other concerns among preschoolers; reasoning about religious norms among adolescents and adults; and decisions about academic integrity and cheating from high school to college. He has published articles in the Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Psychological Science, Child Development, and Developmental Science and has received funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Tripoli, Tyre, Chouf Mountains, Jounie and Keserwan, Koura, and Beirut, LEBANON
Sunni and Shia Islam; Druze faith; Maronite, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant Christianity
Tamer Amin (PI) earned his MA and PhD in developmental psychology from Clark University, USA. He is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Education at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. His research focuses on conceptual change in science learning. He has been examining how the cognitive linguistic theory of conceptual metaphor can help uncover image schematic structures implicit in the language of science and how these can support and sometimes hinder learning scientific concepts. In a parallel line of research, he is investigating the challenges of teaching and learning science in the multilingual contexts of the Arab world and how these challenges might be overcome.
Maliki E. Ghossainy (co-PI) completed her PhD in developmental psychology and her MS in statistics from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. She studies the ways that children demonstrate early signs of epistemic vigilance, that is, the ability to selectively prefer some informants as good sources and judiciously avoid some informants as bad sources. Her research is particularly focused on the ways in which children rely on nonverbal or implicit cues to infer credibility. She has found evidence of a dramatic change between ages 5 and 6 in children’s use of nonverbal leakage to infer that a speaker may be lying and is currently investigating the underlying mechanisms that may explain these findings. She is also currently studying the role of linguistic behaviors on the epistemic judgements of bilingual children in Lebanon and the USA. In addition to serving as co-PI for this research team, she is the Senior Research Scientist for the Developing Belief Network, and is currently based at Boston University.
SINGAPORE • Shanghai, CHINA
Many religious traditions
Tamar Kushnir (PI) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development at Cornell 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, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. 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, and 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 a Research Scientist in the Centre for Research in Child Development, 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.
Jakarta & Bali, INDONESIA
Islam, Hinduism, and various other religious traditions
Florencia Anggoro (PI) is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the College of the Holy Cross. She completed her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology (with a specialization in cognitive science) from Northwestern University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on conceptual development, particularly the role of language, culture, and formal and informal learning experiences in shaping children’s and adults’ concepts. Her research has been published in various journals including Psychological Science and Child Development, and supported by the Institute of Education Sciences. Her recent work has focused on designing and testing cognitive supports for children’s science learning.
Benjamin Jee (co-PI) is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Worcester State University. He completed his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence Learning Center at Northwestern University. He studies knowledge acquisition, with particular interest in and science learning. His research has been published in various journals including Psychological Science and Memory and Cognition, and supported by the Institute of Education Sciences. His recent work has explored ways in which cognitive processes, such as analogy, can be leveraged to support children’s understanding of complex scientific ideas.